Going to a Bjork concert is a bit like traveling to some faraway mystical world, both musically and atmospherically, where one expects – and finds – the unexpected.
At the packed Palladium on Saturday, the eclectic Icelandic pop singer threw concert convention to the wind and gave an uncommonly imaginative performance that combined dizzying elements of classical, pop, jazz, techno, blues and modern dance, proving that you don’t need a guitar or a set of drums to rock the house.
“This first song we’re going to play is dedicated to all the compilation tapes we make for each other,” Bjork said before launching into the throbbing “Hunter,” which details her ever-present need for artistic exploration.
The musical mix was a three-way blend of the soaring, elegant style of the Icelandic String Octet (an accomplished nine-member group with two rotating members), the smart, throbbing electronic beats and crafty samples of DJ Mark Bell, and the pixie-and-diva vocals of the diminutive Bjork, who flitted barefoot about the large stage in a winged white fairy outfit.
Bathed in bleaching white light and performing beneath yards of shiny material that gave the show a cool, liquid vibe, Bjork and her supporting cast crafted exquisite, moody music that ran the inspirational gamut. Songs of fantasy, longing and devotion were lifted from all four of her solo albums (she broke up her band the Sugarcubes in 1992), particularly the recent “Homogenic” (Elektra), on which her so-called “strings-beats-voice” approach was fully realized.
While familiar (though radically rearranged) songs like the alternative radio hit “Human Behaviour,” from Bjork’s 1993 “Debut” album, drew the heartiest applause from the young audience, the entire 85-minute show was enthusiastically received, whatever strange turn Bjork decided to take.