Posts Tagged ‘Bjork’

Bjork in Plymouth: superlative performance art

April 24, 2008

Bjork established herself as a leading talent fifteen years ago, with her debut release, Debut.  Her elliptical lyrics, exploring the big themes and her richly eclectic musicality – shifting effortlessly between dance beats and roots, Minimalism and jazz, as well as knowing pop and artrock – have long marked her out as a precious musician for grown-ups.


Her six studio albums reveal a restless, morphing creativity.  The first four are filleted on Greatest Hits, which repays repeat listening and careful scrutiny – every home should have one.


So Tuesday’s Plymouth gig, on the short English leg of the Volta tour, was approached with keen anticipation: a rare chance to check out the poster girl of grown-up pop at first hand.


Bjork didn’t disappoint. 


Her 90-minute show was superlative performance art.  Interspersing Volta songs with classics from the back catalogue, Bjork treated the largely local audience – there were few signs of travelling hardcore in this far-flung location – to a spectacular show.


The trademark vocals, ranging from intimate whisper to banshee howl, delivered the idiosyncratic songbook with a consistent force.  From the opening bars, when she bounded onto stage like a dervish possessed, to the soaring finale when she led the West Country choir in “Declare Independence!”, she acted out her unique catalogue in dance as well as voice. 


In a lifetime’s gigging, you’d be lucky to see a more energetic, more committed performer.


The show was an ambitious, complex theatrical production, with three keyboardists, a drummer and a horn section of 10, the Wonder Brass (nice touch, that).  Plus costumes, flags, emblems, fire, laser show, confetti storm … the circus was in town …


Bjork’s Plymouth show sounded and looked fabulous.  But it all meant something, too.  Working out what, exactly, will provide hours more fun.


Musicality, originality, ideas, ambition, execution, charisma… the gel’s got it all.





Gerry Smith

Lovely gigs in 2008

April 4, 2008

After a couple of years in which my gigging became a bit narrowly focussed and predictable – mainly opera, with a bit of jazz, world and rock – 2008 is promising to be rather more richly eclectic. 

Having already seen three compelling gigs – Morrissey at the Roundhouse, Dorothea Roschmann singing Lieder at Vienna’s Musikverein, and Salome at Covent Garden, I’m keenly anticipating lots more varied shows, including several key musicians for grown-ups who’ve been on my must-see list for years:


April: Bjork     


May: Roberto Alagna; John McLaughlin


June: Don Carlo; Ariadne; Pentangle


July: Leonard Cohen; Marriage of Figaro


Dec: Cecilia Bartoli


Having re-found the taste for eclectic gigs, I’m eagerly looking for others – top live music for grown-ups is one of the greatest thrills of all.

   Gerry Smith