Björk @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall – 25th April 2008

Bjork - Wolverhampton Civic Hall

From the light of the bar I pushed through the crowd in the darkened venue, trying to avoid standing on too many toes while my eyes adjusted. Leila was on stage rolling out punishing, glitchy, industrial rhythms; electronic swathes draped over breakbeats, punctured by the occasional snatch of recorded speech.

It was an awesome way to set the scene – a slightly intimidating and otherly noise. It was a little disappointing when the lights came up at the end of the set to reveal that we were still in the comparatively mundane surroundings of the Civic.

The mundanity disappeared soon enough. The lights dipped again and a roar went up form those assembled – not a full-blooded sound but one tinged with tremulous excitement. Various people filed on stage – an Icelandic brass band/choir, Damian Taylor and LFO’s Mark Bell taking positions behind electronics, Jonas Sen on keyboards and Chris Corsano on percussion – before the pixie-genius herself skipped on stage and kicked off ‘Earth Intruders’.

Bjork - Wolverhampton Civic HallBjork - Wolverhampton Civic Hall

Then followed one of the most compelling gigs of recent memory. Pummelling martial beats gave way to ululating beauty. Accompanied solely by a harpsichord for one song and by a cacophony of voices, percussion, electronics and brass for another. The breadth of Björk’s vision and talent is reflected in her palette of sounds.

The scalp-tingling moments kept on coming – ‘Pagan Poetry’s heartbreak drama, Army Of Me’s thrilling visuals and the segue from Hyperballad’ into the relentless bass pressure of LFO’s ‘Freak’. Lasers, strobes, flames and glitter showers all added to the spectacle.

Bjork - Wolverhampton Civic HallBjork Wolverhampton Civic Hall

The setlist drew from across Björk’s back catalogue with a slight emphasis on the new. The parting shot was ‘Declare Independence’, the crowd trading chants of ‘Raise your flag’ and ‘Higher! Higher!’ with the instigator on stage. I’d been waiting a long time to finally see one of the most radical yet popular artists of this generation and left wonderstruck. I still am.

Review – Chris Unitt
Photos – Lee Allen

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