Thursday, April 24, 2008

No Wonder Mum's Gone To Iceland

Current level of conviction in own genius: 7.8
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: a round zero, too ill
Reading / Listening: Have weakness for historical mysteries by CJ Sansom, just finished 'Dark Fire' (ouch!) / Beirut's second album
Hair day: overlong

A bit belated, here's my report of never-seen-before-even-though-she's-one-of-my-true-icons Bjork at Hammersmith Apollo last week. To be honest, I was looking forward to it but not like an excitable child: as much as I love her oeuvre, I have been desperately trying to like 'Volta' and quite, quite failing on the whole. But the gig was fabulously, kaleidoscopically wondrous, a sherbert burst for all the senses, a night that can only be described as brass-techno-funk led by a slightly unhinged storm-goddess.

Bjork is a freakin' genius. She looked like a thirsty lioness who'd dipped her head into a few paint pots (I was a bit disappointed not to see the nu-rave-pom-pom hat she sported in the first night press photos); she prowled and purred all over the stage, flinging 10-metre ribbons from her wrists, sending her effortlessly elastic voice into stratospheres. The songs from 'Volta' were much-improved live, and eminent guests from the album topped it off: gentle giant Antony Hegarty (much hilarity obviously ensued when I shouted 'that's not Antony, that's Alison Moyet!' Honestly, he's a dead ringer) came on to do his best with the very silly duet about sparkly eyes and fiery desire; and Toumani Diabate conjured Niagra Falls with his blurred-fingered, cascading kora strings. Alongside a keys player, techno boy and free jazz drummer, Bjork was accompanied by an Icelandic brass troupe, Wonderbrass (boom boom), 11 fantastically striking girls who if not spiking the air with punchy trumpets and tubas, were pogo-ing around to the pounding beats whilst wearing flags and similarly tribal and singing ethereal backing vocals.

'Cover Me' was a brilliant moment of clarity amongst the big noise of 'Volta'; extremely avant-garde keyboard noodling suddenly leapt into terrifying pipe organ doom-chords, with Bjork prancing around self-deprecatingly making Addams Family-esque hand moves. 'Hyperballad' was a hilarious singalong (1,000 people roaring 'every morning I walk towards the edge/and throw little things off/like car parts, bottles and cutlery/whatever I find lying around') and then launched into outrageous happy hardcore, complete with criss-crossing neon lights scrolling shapes on the ceiling. In fact, the gig was just one big party: her last track, China-baiting 'Declare Independence' had everyone jumping in the air before clouds of ticker tape burst above us. Bjork didn't say much, apart from a brightly coquettish 'Senk you!' between numbers. No really, Bjork, senk YOU!

I've just finished reading John Peel's auto/biography; what a warm, charming, brilliant man. Am utterly inspired by his constant pioneering of new music: at 60 he was introducing grime to Radio 1. I must keep going! The new idea is combining mine and Andy's love of organising and starting a new mini-experimental-music-and-literature festival. Summer 2009, here we come...

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