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Björk, tour review : A soul-baring spectacular ★★★★★

Björk without glitchy electronics and crunching beats took some getting used to at first, but this set proved a mesmerising evening

Björk’s return to the London stage for the first time in three years coincided with her Somerset House exhibition, Björk Digital, which enables fans to interact with the Icelandic singer in videos using 360-degree virtual reality headsets.

For an artist who has always embraced technology, an orchestral Royal Albert Hall performance might have seemed like a surprisingly safe comeback.

Being Björk, though, she made her musical makeover spectacular — a mesmerising evening of soul-baring songs and outlandish outfits.

Performing in a winged dress and glowing headpiece by James Merry, she revisited last year’s heart-rending Vulnicura album, which chronicled her break-up with artist Matthew Barney.

While the absence of its glitchy electronics and crunching beats took some getting used to at first, the Aurora Orchestra made her anguish majestic on Stonemilker.

History Of Touches was unbearably sad and, by the end, Björk sounded almost broken.

For all the Nordic despair, though, this was a big, bold and at times witty show from a singer whose dramatic, swooping vocal had found a perfect home at this venue beside the surging strings.

The humour was more evident following the interval, when Björk appeared in an illuminated fibre-optic dress by Icelandic designer Hildur Yeoman.

Not many singers could get away with performing I’ve Seen It All, from the film Dancer In The Dark, while resembling a jellyfish drifting across a stage.

There were great roars of approval as Björk extended the orchestral collaboration to her back catalogue. As well as a magnificent Joga, Pagan Poetry combined rawness with a stirring arrangement and the lovely Anchor Song was set to shivering strings.

Encouraging the audience to dance for the finale of Pluto, Björk transformed its juddering techno into an orchestral assault led by her fearsome vocal. Even without the latest technology, Björk remains a true original.

ANDRE PAINE

publié dans Standard - 22.09.2016

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