4 octobre 2001

Radio City Music Hall

New York, États-Unis


Radio City Music Hall
It seems that New York’s icy facade may have been cracked along with the World Trade Center’s foundation. In the days following September 11th the muted chaos was alluring and the silence was surreal. The game of taxi-versus-pedestrian had been suspended ; the streets were empty yet people kept loyally to sidewalks, treading their familiar paths to work and school. It became clear that New Yorkers do not run away and this truth was further evident during Björk’s opening night at Radio City Music Hall on October 4th, 2001. The kinky singer, who gushingly thanks her “gorgeous Manhattaners” on her latest album, Vespertine, plainly enunciated the final lyrics of “The Anchor Song” for the wounded crowd : “This is where I’m staying/This is my home.” Her fans’ piercing cheers resounded with recognition.
Though she was later armed with a small choir (11 Inuit girls courtesy of Greenland), a 40-piece orchestra and experimental electronic duo Matmos, Björk initially took the stage rather unceremoniously in her now-infamous Swan Dress (which, by the way, has seen its 15 minutes) for the instrumental music box number, “Frosti.” Aside from the sonically-apt “All Is Full of Love” and “Unravel,” the show’s first half was largely culled from Vespertine and last year’s Selmasongs. Björk was decidedly reserved, forsaking the expected spectacle for a minimalist backdrop of changing arctic images which accompanied mostly downtempo tracks like the stunning “Cocoon” and the Academy Award-nominated “I’ve Seen It All” from Dancer In the Dark. A more intimate setting, though, may have done the first set due justice as several modest performances were nearly swallowed by the theater’s size. By-the-numbers renditions of Vespertine’s homegrown lullabies attest to the album’s domestic sensibility and affirm that the disc’s songs, perhaps, belong at home.
While she resembled a futuristic Liza Minnelli during the first portion of the evening, Björk’s over-the- top performance of “Bachelorette” during the second set will forever hold a flame to the dramatic showstoppers Ms. Minnelli had once performed on the very same stage. Dressed in what seemed like a giant red feather duster (a frock that truly took wing during the crowd-pleasing “Hyberballad”), Björk dug into “classics” like “Venus As A Boy” and an extra-gritty version of “Army of Me.” The singer hesitantly approached her microphone like a hungry predator or lover and discretely toiled over each syllable ; she is, without a doubt, one of this generation’s most riveting performers of both record and stage. Martin Schmidt and Andrew Daniel of Matmos, who contributed to three tracks on the glorious Vespertine and opened the evening’s show, had their way with Björk’s “Possibly Maybe,” adding layers of their unique sticatto programming to the original production.
Perhaps we’ve become accustomed to spectacle (the lighting often left much to be dazzled by and the anticipated army of cherub back-up Eskimos was a no-show), but the orchestra was divine and the choir- that-was truly sparkled during “Hidden Place” (both were conducted by Simon Lee). Likewise, Björk’s childlike abandon throughout the frenetic second half of the show was beyond palatable eye-candy. The theatrical tone of the evening (due, in part, to Radio City) begged for “It’s Oh So Quiet,” which was thankfully omitted. Instead, she closed the show with the B-side “It’s In Our Hands,” reminding New Yorkers of the fragile state of their city and leaving them both empowered and thought-provoked : “Aren’t we scaring ourselves unnecessarily ?...It’s in our hands, it always was.”

Sal Cinquemani - Slant Magazine

Celestial Excursions, Complete With Harp
The music in heaven, by some accounts, comes from choirs, harps and angels dressed in white. For the first half of her concert at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night, Björk arrived in a white dress (with pearls, sequins, a tulle ruffle and a swan’s head over her shoulder). She brought along a harpist, Zeena Parkins, and a choir of 11 women from Greenland. She also had a 54-piece orchestra in the pit and an electronica duo, Matmos, creating rhythms out of crackling static and homely sounds like cards being shuffled. Panoramic glacial landscapes filled a screen behind her.
Björk’s heaven is a realm of timeless purity and modern details, of whispered secrets and swelling cinematic crescendos, where the desires of the body and of the spirit are all fulfilled. “Who would have known a beauty this immense,” she sang in “Cocoon,” which details a night of lovemaking.
Sex between lovers is heaven in countless pop songs, but the music for Björk’s songs, most of them from her new album, “Vespertine” (Elektra), turned it into a place with few landmarks and no edges. Women’s voices, harp glissandos and orchestral strings or horns all materialized like clouds ; when Matmos provided a beat, it was usually a throb or a pulsation, without sharp percussive attacks. Björk’s melodies are often just a few repeated phrases, but the way she sang them — fragile and confiding, breathy and awed, or suddenly opening up to an impassioned wail — made them sound as if each phrase was a new foray into the unseen or the intimate.
Such dreamy, introspective songs are made for private listening, and they had some setbacks at Radio City. Björk’s voice was sometimes swallowed in the mix ; stray imperfections poked through the celestial haze. But there were also long, exquisite passages when the songs simply defied gravity, undulating mysteriously as Björk sought rapture.
For the second part of the concert Björk came down to earth. Her dress was red ; her backdrop was drawings of undersea creatures, like diatoms and giant squid. And the songs, many from Björk’s 1995 album “Post,” examined love’s more mundane aspects : flirtations, quarrels, worries, breakups.
The set started with the wounded “You’ve Been Flirting Again” and ended with the post-separation bolero “Bachelorette,” with a symphonic arrangement that harked back to a bygone Hollywood. While the songs spoke of anxiety, they were determined to transcend it ; Björk’s final encore was the unreleased “Our Hands,” which insists that fear and self-doubt can be conquered.
The music retained its orchestral sweep while playing down the beat of the older songs. But as the set continued, Matmos’s sounds grew more aggressive, Ms. Parkins sometimes switched to a distorted electric harp, and Björk let loose some growls. She had taken a few coltish steps in her first set, but soon she started to dance, and her domelike feathered skirt amplified every shake of her hips. And when a full- fledged disco beat kicked in during “Hyperballad,” the audience exploded into cheers. Music can evoke other worlds, but concerts take place in this one, and Björk made sure to share her bliss.

Jon Pareles - The New York Times


01. Musicbox Intro
02. Overture
03. All Is Full Of Love
04. Unravel
05. Harm Of Will
06. Generous Palmstroke
07. It’s Not Up To You
08. I’ve Seen it All
09. Hidden Place
10. Cocoon
11. Unison
12. You’ve Been Flirting Again
13. Isobel
14. Venus As A Boy
15. Pagan Poetry
16. Possibly Maybe
17. Hyperballad
18. Army Of Me
19. Bachelorette
20. Anchor Song
21. It’s In Our Hands

sur scène

  • Matmos
  • The Greenland choir
  • Zeena Parkins


habillée par

  • Alexander McQueen
  • Marjan Pejoski