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Bjork Biophilia Live Review: MIF 2011

Simon Binns is captivated by pop's most outlandish performer

Written by . Published on July 5th 2011.


Bjork Biophilia Live Review: MIF 2011

The Confidential MIF rating: 17/20

Originality 5/5; Performances (acting, singing etc) 4/5; Audience delight: 3/5; Production 5/5.
 

BJORK’S an odd fish.

When she appeared on stage at the Campfield Market, she looked like an Afghan hound who’d lost a fight with a tumble dryer. Or Rudy the psychedelic monk off The Mighty Boosh, but in an oddly sexy way.

Grant And Bjork 035
But she’s also a genius and one of those acts that incites such devotion among her fanbase, she’s allowed to take the least obvious path every now and again.

And such is her new album, Biophilia, which has three or four sublime moments in a challenging, thoughtful collection of new songs. Live, however, replete with full multimedia set-up and specially made instruments, it was a fantastic experience. 

Not for everybody though.

One acquaintance remarked, "It was like listening to the Star Trek closing credits for an hour and forty.’

Another journalist fixed me with her most confused look and said: "You do sometimes think she's just taking the piss a bit."

One other unnamed writer, who sits next to me at work and whose surname rhymes with Blofield, was obsessed by the sporadic appearance of erectile mushrooms and opening fissures of tectonic plates on the huge screens above the stage.

Grant And Bjork 045
"It's a bit 'Life on Earth' especially with the David Attenborough voice over, but fascinating too," he said as a security guard told him not to take photos for the second time. "I might do a sketch and take notes instead," he added.

There was a lot of beard-scratching and light foot-tapping, although plenty of the crowd closest to her were more than happy to go full throttle with the dance  moves, especially two blokes who seemed to have visited Dr Herman’s in the Northern Quarter beforehand.

Looking at the crowd, it was probably a good night to burgle Chorlton and most of Manchester’s movers and shakers were there too. Some of them looked a bit bewildered, but stayed on because they had to. One of them with a hat walked round and round the room, passing us seven times. Maybe he was trying to sell Bjork a city centre apartment?

I was hooked though. Mesmerised.

Grant And Bjork 041
Set highlights? The mental drum and bass outro of Crystalline; the unwavering beauty of All is Full of Love and the sight of an all-female Icelandic choir freaking out to Declare Independence.

It wasn't the most free-flowing or accessible of shows I’ve seen, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting. A big win for MIF and a show worth seeing.

And if anyone wants to know the name of the hotel where the choir are staying, it’ll cost you a grand. There's a picture of them here singing at the Festival opening party in Albert Square.

The setlist:

'Thunderbolt'
'Moon'
'Crystalline'
'Hollow'
'Dark Matter'
'Hidden Place'
'Mouth's Cradle'
'Isobel'
'Virus'
'It’s Not Up To You'
'Sacrifice'
'Sonnets/Unrealities XI'
'Where Is The Line'
'Mutual Core'
'All Is Full Of Love'
'Cosmogony'
'Solstice'
'One Day'
'Declare Independence'
'Náttúra'

Follow Simon Binns on Twitter @simonbinns

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