14 avril 2008

Hammersmith Apollo

Londres, Royaume Uni
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It is still an event when the Björk roadshow rolls into town. Fifteen years since she emerged as a solo star, the Icelandic singer remains one of the most original and theatrical performers that the pop world has ever known. Arriving in London last night for the first of three shows at the Hammersmith Apollo, she marched on stage with her head encased in a cluster of multi-coloured puffballs. She had brought a bit of a band with her – two or three keyboard players and a drummer – but as usual there were strictly no guitars, not even a bass. However she did have a 12-piece, all-female, Icelandic brass section on hand to lend that certain je ne sais quoi to both the look and sound of the show.
The stage was decorated with heraldic flags and large plasma computer screens, a visual complement to the mixture of traditional horns, and futuristic electronica which defined the music. This was taken mostly from Björk’s current album, Volta, which she has been touring to promote since it was released, almost a year ago.
Beginning with Earth Intruders, she took off at a spectacular gallop, her high, ululating voice vaulting the bar lines with its usual idiosyncratic metre and melody. During Hunter a set of streamers exploded from her hands, like giant party poppers, trailing behind her like a jet stream.
The headdress was discarded once the photographers had gone and she marched around the stage in a crushed satin pink and gold dress with huge ruffles trailing down the back and front while a latticework of green lasers sliced through the air during Joga.
There were hugs and kisses for Toumani Diabaté, the kora player from Mali, who arrived resplendent in flowing robes to play his part on the song Hope. Then came Antony Hegarty to lend his velvet vocal tone to the The Dull Flame of Desire, a duet which seemed to take place as two parallel performances rather than as an emotionally engaged whole.
With its marching drum rhythm and discordant harmonies from the brass band, Vertebrae by Vertebrae possessed a dark, malevolent tone. “Same old cloud claustrophobic in me,” she sang in a distressed tone. A magnificent rendition of Army of Me with its subterranean bass line and bouncing laser beams gave way to a contrastingly delicate Innocence as a pile of confetti fell on to the musicians from above.
She finished with Declare Independence, the song which caused such a fuss when she played it in China and dedicated it to the Tibetans. Tonight, at the end of a show which spoke for itself, in a gloriously strange and colourful tongue, she offered the song without comment.
Tour continues : Hammersmith Apollo, Thursday, April 17 and Sunday 20 ; Plymouth Pavilions, Tuesday April 22 ; Wolverhampton Civic Hall, Friday April 25 ; Waterfront Hall, Belfast, Monday April 28 ; Empress Ballroom, Blackpool, Thursday May 1 ; Sheffield City Hall, Sunday May 4

times online

Bjork has never been one to embrace celebrity stardom, always skirting the perimeters of the mainstream, so we were not expecting a greatest hits set.
The 42-year-old is on an extensive world tour to promote her avant-garde album Volta.
It’s a departure from the more insular romanticised domesticity of her previous two albums Medulla and Vespertine for which she drew from a new relationship with partner Matthew Barney and a new phase of motherhood. While focusing on Volta, she dipped into the albums across her career with the exception of her earliest album the clubby Debut from 1993.
Bjork never performs a live show by halves.
Last night the fantastic visual display of green lasers, and colourful confetti was a spectacle to match her inventiveness musically. No expense was spared ; for this show, she had an entourage of musicians including Mark Bell of LFO on electronics and beats, free jazz drummer Chris Corsano and a 15-strong group of Icelandic women brass players whom she introduced ingeniously as the Wonder Brass, showing her sense of humour.
They were the first onstage, marching across the front of the red light filled stage which was decorated with fish and frogs pictures on bunting, in costume and fanfare.
But Bjork’s billowing shimmering pink dress and hat of rainbow pom poms trumped the lot, as they launched into "Earth Intruders", the opener of her new album.
By third song "Unravel" from Vespertine, she had revealed her raven hair, and her voice was an emotive gasp through the gorgeous song, as she moved slowly across the stage like an otherworldly elfin queen.
She introduced the Malian kora player Toumani Diabate, who played a magical introduction to "Hope" on his 21-string kora. The appearance of Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons and their duet song to "The Dull Flame of Desire" from Volta drew huge cheers. The ensuing duet seemed unsurpassable – the pair’s distinctive vocals brought to life against brass, transfixing the crowd. But surpass it she did, with the perfect follow up of "Joga".
The performance more than lived up to its expected beauty, its strings and Bjork’s tender and soaring vocals tapping into the depth of emotion which took the night to a still higher realm.
Hearing the pure Icelandic folk song "Vokura" in which she was accompanied by just a harpsichord leaves you with the feeling that you have witnessed a rare treat.
And it was. Bjork varies her set from one show to another, and no two sets are the same

the independent



01. Brennið Þið Vitar
02. Earth Intruders
03. Hunter
04. Unravel
05. Hope (avec Toumani Diabaté)
06. The Pleasure Is All Mine
07. Dull Flame Of Desire (avec Antony Hegarty)
08. Jóga
09. Vertebrae By Vertebrae
10. Desired Constellation
11. Army Of Me
12. Innocence
13. Who Is It
14. Vökuró
15. Wanderlust
16. Hyperballad
17. Pluto

18. Anchor Song
19. Declare Independence

sur scène

  • Chris Corsano
  • Damian Taylor
  • Jónas Sen
  • Mark Bell
  • Wonderbrass (Icelandic Brass Section)


habillée par

  • Bernhard Willhelm