Arts: Pop - Strung out on the sublime
BJoRK & THE BRODSKY QUARTET UNION CHAPEL LONDON
Her recorded material has always been littered with orchestral textures - a vestige of her training as a classical musician - and her versatile compositions would probably accommodate a wobble board and a penny whistle, never mind something as conventional as a string quartet.
Tonight, Bjork's songs are stripped bare and, to begin with, the mood is one of uncertainty. During "Unravel" and "All Neon Like", the singer tiptoes around the songs much like she tiptoes around the stage, as if frightened of making too much noise in the consecrated surroundings. During "I've Seen It All", the strings seeming more an accessory than an integral part of the proceedings, and the reception is merely polite.
It is not until "Modern Things" that they start to enjoy themselves and the sound develops into a coherent whole. Looking more like a school dinner lady than a Nineties icon in a pink gingham dress, Bjork finally unleashes the old dynamism, flinging her arms into the air, stamping her bare feet and opening her mouth as wide as possible, as if allowing her repertoire of squeaks and susurrations to come tumbling out at once. Her voice is extraordinary, moving from a choirgirl's clarity to the guttural growl of an articulated lorry revving its engine.
Though Bjork has been performing a handful of these songs for over seven years she still seems to exude a childlike sense of wonder at every note, an almost gauche demeanour that belies the maturity and sophistication of her talents.
The Brodskys seemed determinedly unabashed by her antics, their stiff upper lips even remaining intact when all but the cellist are sent to stand in the corner during a sublime version of "Like Someone In Love".
Indeed, a lot of the evening's credit must go to the string musicians, for it is their generously restrained performance that gives Bjork the space to reach new heights of perfection, their soft textures allowing the abstract melodies to float freely, their indomitable poise making the singer's movements seem, by contrast, all the more oddball.
"I'm not much of a talker," she says, thanking the crowd and weaving the hem of her pink dress in and out of her fingers. True enough. Rather, it is her lyrics that speak volumes about her work. "Sometimes the things I do astound me," she intones in "Like Someone In Love". She's not the only one.
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Arts & Ents blogs
The 50 Best Christmas songs: Bells continue to ring for the Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York'
X Factor winners: Where are they now?
Dancing on Ice 2014 line-up revealed
Ben Whishaw to play Freddie Mercury in Dexter Fletcher film
Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat: Peter Capaldi is worlds away from Malcolm Tucker
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Exeter to Edinburgh and back in a day: How one fresher's lost bet left him facing a 900-mile round trip
- 5 Selfie at funeral: Cameron squeezes in on Obama snap at Mandela memorial
- < Previous
- Next >