Pagan poetry at the Pier
In her first Seattle concert since the mid-’90s, Björk offered a night of pagan poetry at the pier. It was as strange and wondrous as a UFO sighting and as magical as an orchestra of elves.
Backed by the Icelandic String Octet, as well as harpist Zeena Parkins and electronic-music duo Matmos, the Icelandic icon treated local fans at Pier 62/63 Friday night to a rare performance of new songs and old favorites, among them “Hunter,” “Joga,” “Pagan Poetry,” “All Is Full of Love,” “Hyperballad” and the achingly romantic “It’s in Our Hands.” Concertgoers chuckled at the modest “thank you” Björk uttered at the end of each song. Otherwise, she said little.
The show was part of a 24-city world tour coinciding with the release of a flurry of DVDs. The tour included only a half-dozen U.S. dates, and tickets to the Seattle show sold out quickly when they went on sale in June.
Björk, who began her career as a child and recorded her first album in 1977, sang in a soaring yet almost childlike voice punctuated by screeches and growls. The former singer for the Sugarcubes, an innovator who is among pop music’s unique treasures, whirled about the stage in a pink balloon dress that made her look like a giant onion. Though not as strange and striking as the swan outfit she wore two years ago to the Academy Awards, it was fun, fanciful and typically Björk. She topped off her costume with a lopsided haircut that featured a partially shaven left temple.
Concertgoers also expressed their individual Björk-ness with odd costumes and gender-blending accessories. What was most striking about Björk’s fans was their attentiveness. Many appeared mesmerized by the diminuitive, fairy-like singer and her soaring, eccentric blend of pop, electronica, classical and old-European musical elements. But when the beat quickened and the music throbbed, concertgoers snapped out of their reverie to dance like Druids.
Björk’s Seattle appearance wasn’t without disappointment. There were few videos from her catalog of brilliant videos, and none of the pyrotechnics featured at her recent Los Angeles show. What was most frustrating was her failure to return for an anticipated encore. Concertgoers stamped their feet and waited 10 to 15 minutes until it was obvious the singer wasn’t going to come back. Her encore set was expected to include “You’ve Been Flirting,” “Isobel” and “Human Behavior.”
Nevertheless, Björk’s 70-minute main set featured many gems, among them the ethereal new song “Desired Constellation,” featuring a celestial video backdrop ; the lush, captivating “Heirloom ;” and the powerful, beat-driven set-closer, “Pluto,” during which the singer twirled about the stage.
Opening the concert was Louisville, Ky., singer-songwriter Bonnie Prince Billy, also known as Will Oldham.
Gene Stout - Seattle Post
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