Bjork at The Hollywood Bowl – (06/11/13)
Reviewed by Dale Nickey:
After three intimate in-the-round performances at the Hollywood Palladium, planet Bjork landed at The Hollywood Bowl Tuesday night for one last blast of the potent nature/technology/music cocktail that is her current Biophilia project. One wonders if the Hollywood-specific focus of her efforts is, in any way, a statement to Tinseltown that there is more to Bjork than the much ballyhooed swan dress that she wore at the 2001 Oscar ceremony. Probably not. She has never been known to give a crap about celebrity gossip.
No matter, the assembled multitude at The Bowl will only remember Bjork and Graduale Nobili (Icelandic ‘choir girls gone wild’) performing a generous, lavish set of outsider Art-Pop. Bjork has recovered fully from throat surgery that forced date cancellations earlier in the tour. If you’re worried about the state of her voice, don’t. She pushed the degree of difficulty and stuck every landing. And, if the adoring Bowl throng was disappointed at not hearing fan favorites “Isobel”, “Human Behavior”, or “Bachlorette”, they didn’t show it. Give Bjork her props; she held a canyon full of hyperactive metrosexuals and millennials spellbound with a set of brainy, complex, and (for the most part) downbeat selections from her latest album “Biophilia”, as well as some eclectic offerings from her back catalog.
After the audience bestowed their patience on the sacrificial opening act, our heroine made sure we cooled our heals in the parlor an appropriate amount of time before she deigned to descend the staircase and receive callers. All the while a curt text message appeared on the five massive video screens (in Spanish and English) informing us that her majesty did not appreciate bootleg recording or I-phone waving at the expense of her performance…tank yu…
Initially, this writer had some concern about the four foot-something warrior princess getting lost in the vast expanse of The Hollywood Bowl. Fears were put to rest quickly with the opener “Cosmology”. The video images were celestial and stunning. More important, they were relevant. Bjork’s latest work “Biophilia” is an album length love letter to nature in all its forms and substructures. Deep space, moon, rock crystals and microscopic organisms. The resulting live show is equal parts multi-media rock extravaganza and x-treme power point presentation.
One small beef was that Bjork only appeared on the big screen once during her performance. That was on the second song “Hunter”. It was a tease not to be repeated.
Sound was precise, full, clear and excellent throughout. Sonic integrity was even maintained during the mega-decibel set closer “Nattura”, where Bjork and the girls let their hair down and had a collective spazz attack while flames engulfed the stage.
There was a scarcity of classic material on the set list. However, when Bjork did lob a chart hit into the audience it was gobbled up voraciously like sharks to chum. “Joga” (from Homogenic) was moving and poignant; an emotional highlight. Also, “Possibly Maybe” benefited greatly from a post-modern makeover from her skilled and focused two- piece band. Again, a shout out to Graduale Nobili . Refreshingly free of spandex and danskins; all of them sang their asses off, all of them had a blast, and all were real flesh and blood beauties who looked like they didn’t mind eating a healthy meal.
In the end, Bjork rewarded our adoration with three encore pieces. First off was a gorgeous a cappella workout by the girls titled “Oskasteiner”. Then Bjork came out sporting some sort of spiked plastic Star-trek head-wear. She then proceeded to give us a proper orgasm with “Hyperballad”. When Bjork and band finally floored the gas pedal on “Declare Independence”, she had all the shiny happy people dancing in the aisles.
It’s nice to know that in this dystopian, NASCAR world, it’s still possible to enjoy an alien visitation. In our time and place, Bjork is as close to an extraterrestrial as we’re likely to get. Seeing her live should definitely be on your bucket list. Because, like the snow leopard, when she’s gone, that’s it, show’s over. There won’t be another coming along to replace her.