Björk, Alexandra Palace, review

The Telegraph, 4 septembre 2013

Björk at Alexandra Palace brought her Biophilia tour to a rousing end, says Alice Vincent.

Björk embarked upon her ambitious science-inspired Biophilia tour two summers ago at Manchester International Festival, and last night she “completed its cycle” in London. It has travelled the globe in between, along with a 24-strong all-female Icelandic choir called Graduale Nobili, a pendulum-powered “gravity harp” and sound bites of David Attenborough.

The project seems to be finding its natural end : the app failed to gain traction and the educational scheme has been ushered away. But the music, an experimental collection of melodies inspired by nature and partly composed on an iPad, remains. Biophilia the album is no longer the alien artefact Björk presented to a beleaguered Sunday night Bestival crowd in September 2011, but known among her fans. Its accompanying show, a complex affair played in the round, is the subject of their online forums. So it was with familiarity, dull expectation, even, that Biophilia was delivered in London.

The giant ginger Afro which the 47-year-old has toted since her Manchester residency looked a little worse for wear : it was tinged with pink and blue and sat a little flat. Attenborough’s once-cryptic introductions to the songs merely let us know what was coming.

There were benefits to the slick production : the choristers have become quite the stars of the show. With tumbling blonde locks and swagged, sparkly robes, they bounced around the stage like Game of Thrones partygoers and their lush harmonies became another instrument entirely.

Björk’s vocal performance was faultless : the textured leaps and growls she is known for were captivating. With the choir’s aid, some of Biophilia’s tracks stood up well against her earlier crowd-pleasers. The joyously dubby breakdown of Crystalline marked it as a worthy successor to 1995 belter Army of Me. The thought-provoking love song Virus was as sensational as Sonnets/Unrealities, whose unaccompanied ee cummings lyrics were heartbreakingly tender.

But the show was most endearing when the tectonic plates of Björk’s performance cracked. The gig was being filmed, and the repetition of some songs elicited bashful explanation from the usually succinct singer and a loving cheer from the crowd.

To celebrate Biophilia’s final night, she explained, they would play an extra song. A thumping Declare Independence followed, more raw than any on-screen earthquake. The choir, to whom it was dedicated, let loose on stage. And there, in the middle, was Björk – old enough to be their mother – with a huge grin on her face.

par Alice Vincent publié dans The Telegraph