Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Review: Bjork Live in Hammersmith Apollo

A bit off the topic of technology here, but Bjork is a legend nonetheless. First, I'll start with my expectations. Bjork has a history of extravagant shows, like the Olympics closing ceremony in Athens  in 2004, so I was hoping to see a very interesting show. This, coupled with the fact that the last time I was at this venue in Hammersmith Apollo, The Flaming Lips were playing, and boy, did they have a good show. 

Anyway, she came out with Earth Intruders, as expected from her setlist, full of energy, in a metallic pink layered dress with very colourful pom poms on her head. Then the pace slowed, and remained so for more than half the night. She sang Hunter, and then my all-time favourite, Unravel. Lovely rendition and worth my money alone. I took a video of this song and you can see it here.

A few songs later, she introduced a special guest, whom I was hoping would be Hercules and Love Affair's Antony Hegarty, but it was a Malian kora player, who played the kora with "Hope". It was an interesting mix and the first time I've seen the kora performed live. Then suddenly, she introduced Antony Hegarty! I was so excited, I really love Antony, his voice really affects me. They did a duet of The Dull Flame of Desire and their voices really melded together in a quite sublime manner. It was such a treat. 

Then the music picked up again, this time with more energetic songs such as Hyperballad, tinged with some electronic beats. The encore ended with Declare Independence, not my favourite song in the world but it was good nonetheless. 

The show was supported by a keyboardist, drummer, synthesizer, pianist and a 15-piece brass band (called Wonderbrass!). The effect was an amazingly full sound, with your eardrums being caressed by complimenting sounds, and it was perfect. Bjork's voice was perfect, and she sounds more powerful than she does on her records. 

A note though, the crowd was a fairly mixed bunch, there were some oldies with white hair and then there were another bunch of fairly young gay men who were dancing so energetically that I wanted to hit them because they were blocking my view! Perhaps the fact that the crowd were so mixed and not united that she hardly communicated with the crowd. There were no banter, and I was surprised she did not shout "Free Tibet!" before, during or after Declare Independence. 

In any case, it was still a fantastic gig, worth every penny. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I happened to be at this gig, and i also happen to be a gay man (of 27, i dont know if thats what you consider to be young), and i SERIOUSLY hope you are not talking about me when you said you want to hit me.

Gigs are about going and listening to music and letting yourself go, not standing about like a corpse with a face like you just ate a bag of lemons.
I was going crazy when Bjork was on, singing along, mimicking her dancing, jumping up and down- basically, letting myself go and having a great time! I noticed that more than half the crowd were stading still like mannequins. At some points i felt like the only person enjoying myself.

I saw Bjork last year at Connect Festival in Scotland and it was insane, the 15,000 strong crowd were going mental, dancing, screaming, singing along (and NOT just to Hypberballad) and it was a phenomenal experience. The gig at Hammersmith left me with a rather bitter taste in my mouth.
Its a sweeping generalisation, but a lot of artitsts/bands have expressed their fondness of crowds up north (or outside London) as they know how to let themselves go and really lose themselves in the moment. It seems to me that most people at gigs in London (from my experiences) are there to be seen or care too much about what other people think of them to actually have fun.

Do you honestly think Bjork wants to look out into a crowd of statues? She WANTS the crowds energy and enthusiasm, especially through such an electric tour, her most energetic yet (her own words).
If you want to stand still and moan about people dancing then i suggest next time you get a ticket for the seating area, or wait at home for the DVD.


ALSO- WHY would she shout "Free Tibet!" at a gig in London? She done it in China to make a point to the Chinese people! If you read up about her gigs you would realise that she tries to relate the song to the crowd she is playing to...

example- at Connect in Scotland, she shouted "Here is a song you can all relate to" before blaring into it, which really appealed to all the SNP voters in the audience!

I suppose if she was going to shout anything in London it would be - Let go of Wales and Scotland, and while you're at it, Australia, Gilbraltar, Bermuda, The Falklands, The Cayman Islands, etc, but it would have probably taken a while for her to get through them all.

Finally- Bjork doesnt really communicate with the crowd or get involved with general banter- she likes to keep her mystique. Even if she wanted to get involved in banter, i dont think she would have been put off by the "mixed crowd", i think she would have been more put off by people like you standing still and getting annoyed at people who were clearly enjoying themselves.