On the last week of her two-year tour for Biophilia I was finally able to see Bjork live, something I’ve wanted to do for twenty years. It felt like a special performance because of all the different elements that come together.
The stage is a square in the centre of the room where everything is built up around it, similar to a Colosseum. On the stage were several custom-built instruments from the Biophilia album. Each corner held its own arena and the centre contained the choir whom wanted to dance and freak out for many of the tracks. Each Biophilia track is introduced by David Attenborough to add a science and naturalistic documentary element to the show. The lighting was beautiful and audio was amazing because being on a raised stage meant the bass resonated through your whole body.
The Biophilia album made up most of the set list and they are played identically to the album. The spectacle comes from seeing the bespoke instrument unveiled. The Tesla coil felt so powerful with mirroring the raspy bass with the lightning, it really pulls you in. Similarly the Hang Drum is a beautiful instrument and I was glad that came out for Virus. Where the show elevated itself was then incorporating new elements into older tracks. The Tesla coil in Possibly Maybe was ingenious, as was the magnificent reworking of One Day on the Hang Drum. The choir as ever, was on form for excellent renditions of Where Is Line and Mouths Cradle too. The instrument for Solstice is massive as saws swing back and forth in a gravity pull and although I couldn’t quite work out how it works, it creates a spectacle. Sacrifice was another highlight as Bjork popped out in a small stage in the corner of the crowd to perform that track with an amazingly huge instrument. Throughout it all Bjork’s vocals were amazing and strong too.
There are some problems that come from a 360 stage and that’s the simple fact you don’t quite see everything and you never will. The TV monitors above played graphics that complimented the music but if there’s four sides Bjork is covering, you’ll have sections where you’ll see her back – often for the majority of a song. The staging and constant spreading out of the choir helped this become less of a problem but it will irk some. Thankfully our show was being recorded and we did have some tracks re-performed due to some technical difficulties. We noticed one of the cameras appeared to conk out plus there was a microphone problem on another track too. Bjork was apologetic and gracious throughout and everyone seemed pleased to just get more!
Overall I absolutely loved the show. It created a magical mood, provided plenty of entertainment with amazing music, plenty of instrument intrigue and decent stages. I know for one I’ll be grabbing the recording on day one – Bjork maintains her status as a supremely engrossing artist.