Bj​örk’s Biophilia

Björk – Roseland Ballroom – Febuary 28th

Eight screens with swirling white lights crowned the stage at Roseland Ballroom. Over in the shadows, the keys of an organ danced up and down as if each one were a sentient creature, sending muted melodies through the excited crowd. There was no opener – just a prerecorded introduction that resembled the kind of explanatory speech you might expect to hear at the entrance to a museum exhibit, delivered in a crisp British accent:

Welcome to Biophilia, the love for nature in all her manifestations from the tiniest organism to the greatest red giant floating in the farthest realm of the universe. With Biophilia comes a restless curiosity […] In Biophilia you will experience how the three come together: nature, music, and technology. Listen, learn, and create. […] We are on the brink of a revolution […] until we get there, prepare, explore Biophilia.

And with that, Björk, along with no fewer than 20 back-up singers and dancers, made her entrance to ecstatic cheers.

Björk (photo Julieta Cervantes)

Her opening song, “Thunderbolt,” was electric to say the least… and not just because of the 6-foot long Tesla coil that generated miniature bolts of lightening in time to the bass line of the music. (Yeah, that happened.)

I confess I haven’t spent too much time with her latest release, but the live production was expertly executed, down to every twinkling note. More than simply an album, Biophilia is a wildly ambitious project that is at once organic and wildly innovative. Who else but Björk would think to release individual interactive apps for each of the songs on her album? And who else but Björk can make you care about transmuting proteins? Watching Björk excitedly circle the stage in her blue bubble outfit and fiery wig is not something I’ll soon forget.

Here’s “Hidden Place,” which features lovely backing vocals from the women’s choir.

As I watched Björk and the women dancing around wildly on stage, hair flying, fists raised to the explosive finale, “Declare Independence,” it hit me. I totally want to be Björk when I grow up. Fifty years ago, most of the artists we obsess over today will have long ago faded away. But Björk? People will still be talking.

"Raise your flag! Higher, Higher!" (photo Julieta Cervantes)

Set list
Dark Matter
Hidden Place
Mouth’s Cradle
Generous Palmstroke
Sonnets/Unrealities XI
Where Is the Line?
Mutual Core

Possibly Maybe
Declare Independence


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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