Icelandic wonder Björk has used New York City as her personal performance space in many ways this month. From the retrospective exhibit of hers currently available to view at Museum of Modern Art, to her series of seven sold out concerts across prestigious New York City theaters (Carnegie Hall, The Kings Theatre, and New York City Center). Björk currently has a firm grip on the city.
The set of New York shows are a part of the exclusive tour for her beautiful new album Vulnicura. Yesterday Björk played her second show of the series at Carnegie Hall (where the first was also held), an usual matinee show that kicked off promptly at noon. This was my first time ever stepping foot in the historic Carnegie Hall, and I can’t possibly think of a better first artist to see there.
Björk came out wearing a lovely long dress, with her faced concealed in the same headpiece made of quills found on the colorful Vulnicura album cover. She was joined by the 15-piece string orchestra Alarm Will Sound, as well as producer, and Vulnicura collaborater Arca (Alejandro Ghersi) and drummer Manu Delgado. Together they formed an incredible live team that majestically brought the sounds of Björk to life in stunning intimate fashion.
The performance was broken up into two sections, with the first being the first six songs from Vulnicura played in order. Arca and Delgado brought the electronic and rhythmic side to life, but it was the string orchestration from Alarm Will Sound that gave her performance an incredible amount of beauty and grace. Their presence made each song even more of an emotional wallop that often left the crowd on the verge of tears, especially with the 10-minute stunner that is “Family.”
After a 20-minute intermission (I think LCD Soundsystem’s farewell show at MSG was the last show I went to with one) she returned to the stage without her mask and turned back the clock to some of her older beloved material such as “Harm Of Will,” “The Pleasure Is All Mine, “Undo” and “Come To Me.” She also returned to Vulnicura playing “Quicksand” and “Mouth Mantra,” leaving “Atom Dance” as the odd song out, probably because Antony Hegarty wasn’t able to make the show.
You go into seeing a big time performer such as Björk differently, with with weighty expectations that seem nearly impossible to be filled. But we go into these shows with a different mind set because they truly are unique excursions that take your mind, body, and soul, and transport them to a totally different place that only these artists can summon. For a large scale show it felt very personal and intimate, leaving me in a bewildered trance that I couldn’t shake. I don’t know if I’ll experience another show quite like it this year.
3. History of Touches
4. Black Lake
7. Pleasure Is All Mine
8. Come to Me
10. I See Who You Are
12. Mouth Mantra
13. Harm of Will