Thursday, April 2, 2015

Live Review: Bjork @ City Center

When Bjork released her latest record, Vulnicura, before it's March street date in January, the album was given an improper birth into the world and probably not the roll out that Iceland's best musical export intended. The critical acclaim was there, of course, but the album is so deeply personal to Bjork that the tampering of any avenue of the music would be unjust. Vulnicura is without a doubt her most introspective and touching work to date. The album revolves around the divorce from her husband Matthew Barney and how she coped to deal with the idea that they will no longer be together. The swooning and emotive album is heavy on the soul to listen to but if Bjork can make it come to life on stage, than no matter how difficult it could be to bear, it is worthy of embracing.

Hear Our Essential Bjork Playlist

After an unprecedented eight gigs scattered around New York City from Carnegie Hall to Brooklyn's Kings Theater to Manhattan's City Center for her closing nights, Vulnicura came to blossom. On her website, Bjork posted, "music is a beast best suited for concert halls: and i was blessed enough this time around to try amongst the new york finest : carnegie hall , the magnificent newly renovated kings theatre in brooklyn and the intimate city center . this time around ive kept the staging and theatricals minimal, let it all be about the music , the notation , the listeners. these temples of music are an ancient idea and not a coincidence that they work! hurray to gigs!!! im grateful!!"

For her final night at City Center, Bjork went out in epic fashion.  Just after 8 p.m. as her 15-piece "Bjorkestra," as I like to call them, a percussionist and Vulnicura collaborator and producer Arca took the stage, out came the woman every paid to see. Even getting a standing ovation before a single note was played. Dressed in an ensemble that was half-leotard, half flowing dress, with a mask over her head that resembled Pinhead from the Hellraiser films, it was time for Bjork to dig out her soul and let it all out on stage. Opening with "Stonemilker" and then "Lionsong," and backed by visuals that went in tandem to the rhythm of the music, it was Bjork as real and as raw as it could get. For nearly and hour she went through most of that new album and as we witnessed her recounting her pain, emotion, and curiosity, you couldn't help but be so caught up into it all.

After a 20-minute intermission, Act II of "Vulnitoura" started, this time she was in a maroon outfit and white make-up and took to the stage as if she would never leave. Raging through "Come To Me," "Quicksand," then adding in Volta's "I See Who You Are" and "Wonderlust," the audience was in free fall. She took everyone into the peaks and troughs of her inner being and we couldn't ask for more, but she still gave it to us. For a one song encore of "Mouth Mantra," she was on stage with yellow balloon-like shoulder pads that had yellow fringes on them, it resembled this time The Ultimate Warrior, but pranced around like a ballet dancer light on her feet as she gave it all for her final number.

Bjork's concerts have always been something to admire thanks in part to her transcendent appeal, but this current tour coming off of her acclaimed and intimate 2012 Biophilia tour, she is bringing her philosophies to life and not just singing them but reliving them.

A photo posted by Björk (@bjork) on