Anyone who’s ever seen Björk perform live knows that she is the sort of artist who can virtually do no wrong. She’s in a league of her own – in fact she often seems to live in a planet of her own design. To say that she is innovative and beyond gifted is an understatement, but when it comes to Björk, words never quite seem to be enough. Last night’s performance at the Orange stage made that crystal clear.
Dressed in a black, shiny dress that resembled robotic snakes wrapped around her body, completed with a variation of the iconic orange wig that goes with the style of her 2011 album Biophilia, Björk certainly looked the part. Accompanied by an army of Icelandic choir-girls and a string of musicians, the performance was hauntingly flawless.
There was an organic feel about the entire show. She portrayed a magical world of an almost cleansing and spiritual nature. There were plenty of effects, both visual and musical, and for the duration of the concert, the audience was in Björk’s territory and not the other way around. She put on a show worthy of a musical sorceress and did not even try to cater to the audience. There was no walk down memory lane, no string of classic hits and nearly no dialogue between the audience and the shining star. There was only Björk being Björk, and that was enough.
As was to be expected, she performed several songs from Biophilia – her eighth full-length studio album and the world's first “app-album” in collaboration with Apple. ‘Thunderbolt’, ‘Moon’ and ‘Hollow’ were beautifully delivered. It was a pleasure and a privilege to take it all in and the songs had an almost divine energy to them.
In fact, there was a Biophilia vibe throughout the entire concert, even when she performed songs from other albums. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that she decided to play songs from only one album – quite an amazing feat, seeing how eclectic her music is, in actuality.
The choir was an essential part of the performance and their voices were, for lack of a better word, heavenly. They complemented Björk in every possible way: musically, vocally and visually. They provided a beautiful, at times ominous, texture to the performance while somehow remaining in the background even when performing avant-garde choreography.
Long-time Björk fans got to enjoy some of her ‘90’s work, including ‘Hunter’ from Homogenic (1997) and ‘Isobel’ from Post (1995). ‘One Day’ from Debut (1993), was Björk‘s first encore and it was one of the few numbers she performed without the full presence of her choir. Accompanied by only one instrument, Björk serenaded the audience in one of the evening's many magical moments. She whistled quite a bit during the song. In pure Björk fashion, she was not the best whistler but her delivery left nothing to be desired.
“Tak, Tak, Tak” (thank you, thank you, thank you) were nearly the only words that came out of Björk’s mouth. She introduced the band and choir, right as she returned to the stage for a two-song encore. The only other time she really talked was right before the very last song of the evening. She asked if it was okay that she spoke English and urged the audience to sing along. ‘Declare Independence’, from her 2007 album Volta became the last song played at the Orange stage this year. It was a powerful delivery, with the choir going crazy in what looked like an alien party on stage.
Having seen her legendary performance at Orange stage in 2007, I confess that I have mixed feelings about last night’s show. It was strangely paradoxical to be bored in the presence of greatness, and there were moments where I wished she would drop the Biophilia act and went all out like she did five years ago. But as a Björk fan, I think you have to be willing to let her take the lead and fulfil her own vision. She is a headliner of the highest calibre and a true artist. Her performance was a statement to her ability to reinvent herself and at the end of the day, she did was she does best – she was herself. And the audience got to journey through her wonderfully bizarre world.