Bjork brings mix of arena concert and left-field Broadway musical to Dublin

Bjork's magnificent show in Dublin was a mix of arena concert and left-field Broadway musical, writes Ed Power .

"Eccentric” is an adjective that has been applied to Björk throughout her career, sometimes as a compliment, occasionally as an accusation.

Bjork wearing Dilara Findikoglu at 3Arena in Dublin. Picture: Santiago Felipe
Bjork wearing Dilara Findikoglu at 3Arena in Dublin. Picture: Santiago Felipe

Yet stereotyping Iceland’s biggest export this side of frozen cod as kookiness-on-a-stick does a disservice to the undertow of sincerity and curiosity running through her music.

That was clear throughout her first Irish performance in more than a decade as she plunged into a whirlpool of twirling, pantheistic idiosyncrasy and emerged clutching truths that transcended the avant-garde staging.

'Cornucopia' is a blend of arena concert, left-field Broadway musical and capricious art-show. It was originally commissioned by New York venue the Shed and Björk has clearly been indulged to an extent.

Bjork wearing Dilara Findikoglu at 3Arena in Dublin. Picture: Santiago Felipe
Bjork wearing Dilara Findikoglu at 3Arena in Dublin. Picture: Santiago Felipe

She was flanked in Dublin by choreographed flautists and members of Reykjavik’s Hamrahlid Choir, the latter dressed like cultists waiting for a flying saucer to whisk them away. There was a water-based drum-kit and, in the corner, a sort of space-yurt into which the singer ventured at especially emotive moments.

Björk herself was naturally disguised as an ambulatory shrub, her pink, frond-embellished costume topped with a Carnivale mask, through which her eyes twinkled.

Bjork at 3Arena in Dublin. Picture: Santiago Felipe
Bjork at 3Arena in Dublin. Picture: Santiago Felipe

A slowed-down 'Venus As A Boy' was as close as she came to banging out the hits and those expecting to bop along to her big Nineties moments may have sloped home underwhelmed.

But this was nonetheless an extraordinary journey. Björk drew largely from 2017’s Utopia album, recontextualising the material by turns as a howl against climate change inaction and society’s obligation to embrace the feminine.

The motif of uncurling flowers recurred throughout, which, augmented by the flesh-coloured stage, made it feel you were being serenaded by a giant venus flytrap.

Bjork at 3Arena in Dublin. Picture: Santiago Felipe
Bjork at 3Arena in Dublin. Picture: Santiago Felipe

A video address at the end by climate change activist Greta Thunberg gave voice to the evening’s implied sense of planetary doom. Björk then reappeared in a luminescent outfit that cast her as a dancing dandelion.

Nothing here could pass for normal yet the more intensely bizarre it became the harder it was to resist.

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