Music Review: Björk, Royal Albert Hall

“Moments of clarity are so rare
I better document this”

It takes something special to get me to a gig rather than a play these days, but Björk is that something special as I racked up my 8th time seeing her live in nearly 20 years of concert-going (here’s reviews of number #6 and #7. This acoustic concert was billed as a one-off (though due to the speed with which it sold out, a second date at Hammersmith Apollo was added) and marked the first time that the Icelandic singer has taken the stage at this austerely beautiful venue.

The show coincided with the launch of the Björk Digital exhibition at Somerset House, featuring her groundbreaking forays into virtual reality videos but in contrast with the high tech there, this concert stripped things back to just strings. And for the heart-sore, emotionally bruising material of most recent album Vulnicura, this was a marriage made in heaven, the arrangements making you appreciate just how complex a composer she has matured into.

Consequently this isn’t the kind of music that will win over new fans, but Björk has never been the kind of artist to cater to any form of commercial impulse, pursuing instead the sort of artistic vision that is hardly seen in the world these days. And from the extraordinary costumes to her inimitable way with a lyric – “Family was always our sacred mutual mission which you abandoned”, “Every single fuck we had together is in a wondrous time lapse” – she is aurely one of the most charismatic performers out there.

The second act sees her come as close to crowdpleasing as she does, incorporating some of the back catalogue hits like an ecstatic ‘Jóga’ and the glorious multi-layered ‘Pagan Poetry’, and the closing ‘Pluto’ was a genius way to end the set, repurposing its industrial tumult to fascinating effect. On this evidence and this ever-inventive vein of creativity, I can see myself coming back to watch Björk for another 20 years and more.

History of touches
Black Lake
I’ve Seen It All
Pagan Poetry
Mouth Mantra

Anchor Song

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