SAY what you like about Björk, but she sure is punctual.
A few minutes after the designated 9pm kick-off, the lights around the Opera House’s forecourt dimmed, the crowd of 6000 people cheered wildly and a procession of 10 Oompah Loompahs carrying an assortment of trumpets, tubas, trombones and French horns marched onto the stage with military precision. They were dressed in robes lurid enough to make the members of the Polyphonic Spree look positively drab and each had a red flag protruding from their head.
The Oompah Loompahs raised their instruments to their lips and began to play, triggering a small explosion at stage left. As red smoke enveloped the stage a petite woman in an Alfoil dress with enormous butterfly wings and the kind of colourful facial make-up favoured by members of the Battlestar Galactica cast gambolled to the centre of the stage. She was clutching what appeared to be a small porcupine, but may have been a pom-pom.
Björk Guðmundsdóttir, the Icelandic space pixie whose voice has been compared to “an ice-pick through concrete”, certainly knows how to make an entrance.
In stark contrast to the day-glo Oompah Loompahs, the rest of Björk’s band were a serious-looking bunch. The drummer struck his kit with fluffy orchestral mallets while two colleagues manipulated the electronic beats and samples by peering at the screens of their laptops like technicians at a nuclear power plant.
There was nothing staid about Björk’s performance, however. As the singer launched into her second song, Jóga, she began to hop and skip in what appeared to be an Icelandic version of the funky chicken. The drums clattered and a single green laser beam shot out of the stage and scribbled on the pristine white sails of the Opera House.
Then two girls in the audience in swan outfits—a homage to Björk’s bizarre appearance on the Oscars red carpet—writhed with pleasure. Björk finished the song. “Tink-you,” she said in her odd blend of London and Icelandic.
Apparently Björk was booed by Rage Against the Machine fans when she appeared on the same bill as the American rockers at the Gold Coast leg of the Big Day Out on Sunday. Perhaps they thought she wasn’t political enough. They’ve got it all wrong, of course. Rage are pantomime anarchists—Björk is the revolution.