Bjork @ Hollywood Palladium 6/5/2013

This was a really fun show with a stunning combination of sight and sound as she performed her 2011 album Biophilia in its entirety.

I would say I was a casual fan of her early output and really enjoyed pretty much all of her “hits” in the 90s. After that I lost track of her music, not deliberately, just fell off my radar. But when the opportunity came recently to see her, I jumped online for tickets. So what if I didn’t know the album she would be playing. She has such an expressive and powerful voice that she’s been on my must-see list for awhile. Plus she’s liable to wear anything.

This was my first visit to the Palladium. Contrary to the normal setup for shows, the stage had been abandoned for a circular stage adorned with a crown of double-sided video monitors. It was already getting crowded so we decided to forego the smaller second level and stood on the floor about 20 feet from the stage.

There was no opener, just an announcement before the musicians entered that they had worked hard to create an immersive audiovisual experience as so they requested people to not take pics and video.

That request was honored by a good number of folks but it took about 15 secs for the first transgressors to whip out their phones. Security made a couple of attempts at stopping folks who were particularly egregious which was laudable. I decided to pocket my phone and so no pics from me.

Too bad, because there would have been so much to capture. Those video screens conveyed images that synced up nicely with each individual song. Standouts for me was the time lapse video of the moon going from light to dark in perfect harmony with the harp that bouys “Moon” and the green “microbes” that gather round cells and then overwhelm them on “Virus.”

Since this was a musical show, what about the audio? Yeah, that was fantastic too. A pre-recorded narrator who sounded like a cross between Robin Leach and David Attenborough introduced many of the songs with a quick reference to the concept of that song. Adding to the Greek theater concept was a chorus of 15 or so women who not only sang but danced throughout the show. They really added depth to the songs and were like another instrument in the band. If you’ve only listened to the album, it really does add another layer to the songs.

As for instruments, a percussionist, keyboardist, and harpist provided most of the musical accompaniment. The tempos vary widely over the course of the album though there is always an underlying rhythm to the songs, even with the unconventional time signatures used. I also say they provided most of the music because there was additional sound coming from a tesla coil on the aptly named “Thunderbolt” and something called a gameleste on the electro track “Crystalline”.

Oh yeah, Bjork was there too. She didn’t disappoint me on any count: she wore what I would describe as a technicolor Afro wig and watching robe and controlled every song with a voice that does soft and nuanced as well as brash and loud. She has one of the few voices I’ve heard that translates so literally from record to live concert. There’s no Autotune money in her recording budgets.

After finishing the album up, they came back for a three song encore that finished with her 2008 anthem for the politically downtrodden, “Declare Independence” which also doubles quite nicely as a club banger.

Here’s a video from the show (someone didn’t listen).


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