22 août 2003

KeySpan Park

New York, États-Unis


No Peanuts or Cracker Jack, But a New Way of Singing

The smaller Björk gets, the bigger she seems. On her most recent studio album, “Vespertine” (Elektra),
she created a miniature world full of chiming music boxes and hiccupping computers. The disc, released
in 2001, was full of exquisite songs about a private cataclysm ; it charted what one lyric called the “quietly
ecstatic” process of falling in love.

This might have seemed like a retreat, except that Björk had never sounded bolder or more astonishing.
“Vespertine” was proof that she had become one of the world’s great musical figures, and each shy,
audacious phrase reminded listeners that she had invented her own way of singing—maybe even her own
way of thinking.

It’s no surprise that Björk’s obsessively detailed music sounds great through headphones ; what is more
impressive is that it also sounds great in a Coney Island baseball stadium. On Friday night Björk came to
KeySpan Park, playing an unusual, unforgettable concert on a stage at the center field wall.

The setting wasn’t perfect. While fans with general admission tickets cheered and danced on the field,
those who had made the mistake of paying for seats had to stay in the bleachers, squinting at their heroine
from across the field. (As they found out, there are exceptions to the rule, rare cases when Björk doesn’t
seem bigger as she gets smaller.)

For anyone close enough to see, though, the concert felt like one long celebration. Björk has spent the
summer revisiting her greatest hits—she has released a barrage of live CD’s and DVD’s—and so her tour
feels a bit like a victory lap.

She brought with her the musicians who have become her backup band : the harpist Zeena Parkins, the
Icelandic String Octet and the computer-music duo Matmos. It was Matmos’ job to supply the pulse, but
Bjork seems to like the duo precisely because of the way they bury it instead, often shattering the beat
into a haze of glitches and noise.

For ’’Pagan Poetry,’’ Björk followed the fluid, slightly unpredictable rhythm supplied by Ms. Parkins.
When the music stopped Björk stepped forward for the song’s heart-stopping final act. “I love him I love
him I love him I love him,” she sang, as if she were divulging an enormous secret. Then came a promise
that had already been broken : “I’m gonna keep it to myself.”

All night, she worked to compress the distance between inner space and outer space. On a new song,
“Desired Constellations,” she surrounded her voice with flickering electronic tones while she sang a
creation myth that sounded like a lullaby : “With a palm full of stars, I shake them like dice, repeatedly,
and I throw them on the table, repeatedly.”

Then, toward the end of the night, she sent her feelings shooting toward the heavens. For “Pluto,” an
impossibly hard techno beat took over, and as Björk sang, “Excuse me, I just have to explode,” behind her
a blitz of fireworks went up—repeatedly—from the beach into the night sky.

The opening act was Sigur Rós, the Icelandic band known for elegiac songs (sung in an invented language)
that slowly reveal their grandiosity. As you might imagine, this kind of thing isn’t terribly well suited to a baseball stadium, and during the group’s set some audience members might have wished they were
watching the Brooklyn Cyclones instead. That’s not Sigur Rós’ fault, though ; if the Cyclones ever decide
to hold an exhibition game at, say, the Beacon Theater, maybe some people in the crowd will be pining for
Sigur Rós.

Kelefa Sanneh - The New York Times

Björking For The Weekend

At Coney Island’s Keyspan Park, the procession of freaks
began early Friday evening, all closing out summer with the
high priestess of eclecticism. We were there, walking among
the pagans, the redheaded women, the gay glamour-boys,
the smattering of blacks (us). Despite the pending ceremony,
the homestead of the Cyclones was inelegant as usual. There
were kickass pistachio Italian ices, pretzels, beer, and a dude
hawking Cracker Jacks. When the draft ran dry, the
concessionaires poured red wine into large beer cups. When
night fell, Deno’s Wonder Wheel blazed pink and white, and
this was somehow right for the ageless pixie Björk.

A barrage of fireworks announced the Icelander’s arrival. She
looked exquisitely ridiculous. There were no flamingos, just
a black dress with a fuchsia star blooming from the side. Björk
jerked awkwardly across the stage, beautiful and Bob Marley like. Then her eight-piece string section whined the opening notes to “Jóga.” Every time she wailed “state
of emergency,” flame shot up in jets from in front of the stage. Bombs from the tip of the world exploded
again. But her big voice outstripped the pyrotechnics, expanding out over the park. A baby began to cry.
Some dude clutching an empty beer bottle and the handles of a stroller produced tiny earplugs.

Bah, the kid would have gotten over it. Who could have resisted the mighty litany Björk unfurled that
evening : the vindictive “5 years,” the wistful “Heirloom,” the ascending “All Is Full of Love” ? Or the unlikely
ensemble she pulled together—a harpist, string section, and a dude triggering the programmed drums.

Her best rendition was of the worst song on her best album, Homogenic’s “Pluto.” Those drums always feel
like icicles at your ears, but on Friday they sent the crowd into a panicked rapture. My girl started hopping
up and down like the white girls we used to laugh at. I wanted to hop around like a white girl too, but the
song I hate had become hypnotic. This should have been her last number, but the crowd enticed her into
an encore. We were grateful to have her back for three more songs. Even without explicitly howling that
she was “no fucking Buddhist,” she still left her pagans ecstatically restless.

Ta-Nehesi Coates - The Village Voice


01. Hunter
02. Pagan poetry
03. Desired constellation
04. Jóga
05. Generous palmstroke
06. All is full of love
07. Scatterheart
08. I’ve Seen It All
09. Cocoon
10. Unravel
11. 5 Years
12. Heirloom
13. Bachelorette
14. Hyperballad
15. It’s In Our Hands (SPT mix)
16. Pluto
17. You’ve Been Flirting Again (Icelandic)
18. Isobel
19. Human behaviour

sur scène

  • Icelandic String Octet
  • Matmos
  • Zeena Parkins

habillée par

  • Aftur


  • Lynn Fox