Music Features

Bjork: Live at Deer Lake Park, Vancouver (23/05/07)

Hopefully I'll find this headline in the paper one day:

"Bjork forms otherworldly society; supported by 10 piece Icelandic brass band adorned in fluorescent oompa-loompa space suits."

She'd get my vote for founder of the first moon colony, hands down.

As for being surrounded by grassy knolls and a set adorned with medieval flags heralding Bird, Alligator, Pisces and Frog; the air bolstered with the idea that she is definitively more than just a music collaborating aficionado with a surging voice box. Essentially, she's a global spokesperson for Iceland, and so the crowd must be brought into the musical genre of Icelandia.

Trying the audience with their electronic bombast, The Sugarcubes' Einar Orn and his latest incarnation, Ghostigital, opened. While their combination of spastic proclamations and rambunctious electronics were a momentary novelty, Orn's lets-go-ape-shit dancing was the cherry-on-top to the duo's quick exhaustion. And so the notorious wait between sets began.

But shortly after the first pink flecks addressed the sky, Bjork entered the stage following her 10-piece Icelandic brass ensemble, percussionist, keyboardist and long time electronic collaborator, Mark Bell. Adorned in a billowing silver dress and a headdress akin to a dragon's oriental swag, she poured into Volta's opening track, Earth Intruders. Yet despite the periodic bursts of flame emphasizing electronic wizardry, Bjork's manner was surprisingly meek through the song's we-are-one-race performance address.

In fact, for the first few songs of the set, Bjork appeared delicate and almost jaded. Her vigor seemed as though it were folded nicely at home in a box as she ran through rehearsal, stretching her tight smile with thumb and forefinger in the fleeting pauses between songs. While the majority of the tracks that carried her to the concert's midpoint were performed as intimate concessions on an independent accord, a certain personalism remained latent.

Bjork's first moment of true grace came with Vespertine's Pagan Poetry, where her delicate sincerity seemed to build a portal of momentum. By the time she broke into Post's I Miss You, the reckless, undeniable power of her voice has found its rightful altar. Pushing her trademark bellows to a place beyond contention, she swarayed the attention of the sunset until Einar Orn joined her to perform the jutting trumpet line of the song's climax. They each danced freely in their own bubble to the songs dénouement, purging their erraticisms like opposing colours stuck as neighbours in the same box.

Following with another track from Post, Bjork utilized Army of Me to escort the crowd into some sort of electronic head bangers ball. Powered by the overriding trudge of the main beat, the song became a myopic cause as it pushed the album version's urgency down the well. Still, its more glitchy industrialisms built a comfortable path towards the sharp cutting beats of Volta's red and furious Innocence.

Unfortunately, with Timbaland's track behind her, another graceful lull ensued until the subdued beats of Hyper Ballad slithered to catch the audience with a convalescent twinkle. As the song's beats began to brew, the stage gained a circumventing energy, the lights and levels became accustom, and soon a relentless charge had seemed to camouflage the environment into something like a rave. Oh Bjork, your persuasion can evoke just about anything.

It was a noticeable climax akin to a fireworks show, with the building of intensity on a gradual incline until it is nearly overwhelming: the delicate poignancy of her voice swinging into momentum with the electronics, the beats meeting her voice at its most sterling decree. The light show and Icelandic brass threw up their bags for the ride and unified for the bolstering energy of Homogenic's Pluto. At the song's closure, her voice was left in startling isolation as an undeniable force field, bellowing relentless into the haze of halogens and night.

And then she said "tank you".

After a period of shouts and calls that felt as though her return was earned, she introduced the band and performed Medulla's Oceana - a delicate song where she seemed equally as enamored by the evocation of her voice as the audience. She then bolstered into the closing track of both Volta and the concert, Declare Independence. Parading with one of the most jarringly demanding songs in her catalogue, she injected it with the urgency of its decree, returning to the ideals of systemic abandonment and the fusing of new ideals. With a frenzy of choreographed lights and an ascension of musical power, she appeared as though to be weaving an extended dance floor, her own galaxy at her feet.

Though her tired introduction spoke for the wear of innumerable performances, her breakthrough passion legitimized it all. She is a pillar for the point where impulse overruns vigilance, an artful fairy that combines discourse with beauty. While her profound erraticism and emotion are indestructible, these characteristics walk alongside her fragile humanity. This concept stands behinds Bjork's relentless vigor, and it is what defines her purity: any day the San Andreas fault might slide.