Bjork - 10/14/01 @ the Civic Opera House

It was oh so quiet at the well-awaited performance of Bjork at the Civic Opera House this past Sunday. With a 50-piece orchestra, a choir from Greenland and with the help of opening act MatmosBjork’s show blew my mind!

Performing at the Civic Opera house was an original start to the show…it automatically checked your immature and close minded mind at the door. Then right when the lights went down the audience was at a hush (after a large anxious applause of course)…the orchestra played the overture to Dancer in the Dark (on Bjork's “Selmasongs”) and everyone’s tearful eyes began to see not only Bjork the “pop” star…but they were about to see a movie star.

The first set was a 45-minute heavy on the new albums material (“it’s not up to you” – “unison”) while throwing in some recent classics, such as Homogenicsjoga.” Bjork was dressed in the famous swan dress that she wore both on the cover of Vespertine, but also appeared with it at the Oscars. Minus shoes she tapped lightly on stage (almost keeping silent beats to herself). The only words she spoke were a “thank you” before running off stage. To be honest at that point, I wouldn’t have been upset if that was all…cause in my opinion that was worth my money right there!

After the 15-minute intermission she slowly floated on stage in all red (the top part of her dress had red chimes of sorts on it, making her a walking tambourine. The bottom portion was made of large red feathers) and went into a sort of downward spiral (not in the same way Basements Jaxx did…see Basement Jaxx review)…it was a spiral that went down the line of her songs. Hitting the new at the beginning of the show and slowly getting closer and closer to her Debut.

In that 45-minute set she hit upon Verspertine's “pagan poetry”, Post’s “isobel” “hyper ballad” and the ONLY song of the night that did not fit in well… “army of me.”…there are a couple reasons for that comment: After hearing over an hour or ear candy sounds that surrounded the venue (it honestly made me have to look around the room to see if there were in fact speakers behind me...there were not) “army…” flew at you with anger. The bass was too much for the acoustically perfect room…the main booms of the song were only felt by Bjork's arm throwing gestures that made you want to feel what she felt, but it was lost in heavy overlapping noise. It may have been my to-close-to-the-stage-seats (thanks to my friend Dan, who’s friend didn’t show, giving me the opportunity to sell my nose bleed seats…no offense to those of you who had those…for 16th row ones) but this too was the only time Bjork was drowned out by the music. It seemed to have been put there to show she’s not all about the mellow and “new Bjork”…she still has her edge and don’t you forget it!

Her encore was where the spiral ended…that being her performing her first track to her first solo CD (she was in the Sugar Cubes prior to this who may not have known) “human behavior”…she again more barefooted, jumped around on stage shouting “argh” into the mic and soon running off leaving the audience no choice but to grave more.

More she gave. Before her second encore she came on stage with the rest of the “group” (can’t really call them a band) and introduced each one. What I oddly craved was for her to say “Chicago”…and that she did, introducing the orchestra as “from your town…Chick-aco”…soon after large applause she slipped on her intro to a new song, which no title was given, but I assume has something to do with hands…since that word came up several times in the show and ended with a heavy bass and clap session from everyone on stage, plus in the audience. Most likely it will appear on an up and coming single to Vespertine…I can only hope…

A second show has been talked about for months now…rumored to have been announced tonight by Bjork herself…yet it wasn’t. The idea was to play at a small venue (rumored to be a church) where no microphone will be needed and only 300 people would be able to fit in and she could sing hands free on stage. In my opinion she could have done that tonight. Like I said, the night was just filled with ear candy and her voice was the sweetest.

Did I leave going “oh, she should have played this and that”…yes, especially I was surprised she didn’t play “Hidden Place,” her first single to Vespertine. But I still left satisfied, mesmerized, and pleased. This wasn’t a best of show…she’s only 35, she has decades before any of those shows will come out of her.

She truly has one of the largest following I know, next to Tori Amos (possibly more). Her style and methods of music hit more than any genre I know…it truly shows it’s all in her human behavior and that the only way to open your mind is to blow it away…

--Todd, Chicago -

Bjork - 10/14/01 @ the Civic Opera House

Bjork's playing the Civic Opera House?!? Joy...rapture....delight....Stay tuned faithfull readers as I may shock and suprise you.

Before I start getting controversial...Bjork is a world class act and the music I heard this evening was heavenly. Heavy on Vespertine with Matmos supplying the beats, I saw an amazing live act.

Now! On to my griping!!!!

If you would have told me that I would have walked away from this show a little bit dissapointed...say right before the show started...I would of smacked you.

I know Vespertine is her new album and she needs to get it out for all to hear (its one of my top albums of 2001) but she didnt perform "Hunter" or "Violently Happy"! ouch. And no "Hidden Place"!! Double ouch.

But forget I mentioned her choice in songs because thats not the problem. The problemo is that I was a member of one of the worst concert crowds I've seen in my life. I'm all in favor of showing affection for your favorite artist, but.....

The atmosphere was almost like an opera/classical music concert, and the ambience was amazing, there was a nervous tension in the air and everyone was getting excited. Bjork comes on stage...the crowd erupts, understandably. She then does "All is full of Love" to open. After the song, the crowd erupts again. Then as the first note of the next song is played, the crowd erupts again, hoots and hollers and screams. A good 10 seconds out of every song was drowned out by the thunderous cheers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the accoustics of the Civic Opera House may be great for music, but you don't realize how the accoustics work for thunderous applause. We all know that Bjork likes to dance. During the show, whenever Bjork decided to break away from singing and dance...the crowd shows their appreciation by drowning out the music.

The conflict with this performance was that Bjork seemingly wanted to do elevate herself above rock/pop status. (She used to play venues that regular rock bands played) but her fans aren't allowing it. Case in point: During the show you were not allowed to get up and leave in the middle or enter your seat. Some fans in my section had a problem with that. The end result was some loud arguments engaging, which was not very good for my music experience. Sadly I have to wonder if Bjork's desicion to play the opera house was the best. The sound wasn't bad...but it was too soft...some of the beats Matmos produced could have benefited if the volume was louder, I wonder if the accoustics from the Opera house had a hand in that department.

Okay! Enough with me complaining. On to what was good...and there was a lot of good. Matmos was really good to me. Two creative gents working around a vast assortment of computer equipment creating noise themselves, and recording them to sample for music they where making. They used a balloon to create some amazing sounds and beats. By recording the breathing noise one makes while blowing up a balloon, and the squeel from letting the air out, they created a song. Matmos was entertaining and I give them my thumbs up. If you have ever heard of an artist named Herbert, you would understand what kind of music Matmos made. To end their set they blew up 3 very large balloons and attached it to a string. The balloon floated to the top of the ceiling in a very bizzarre moment. It was both touching and funny at the same time, as once the balloons hit the ceiling, the set was over.

Bjork came out shortly, wearing her white swan dress and barefoot (which she was the whole perfomance.) Joining her onstage was a girl playing the harp and even an accordian. She had a choir of 10 or 11 female singers from Greenland and on the far end of the stage was Matmos.

Bjork's voice sounded great and everything was spot on. There was an orchestra in the pit, with violins, bass players and kettle drums. The violins where the dominant sound coming from the pit, and the music was amazing. The orchestra was introduced by Bjork as "An orchestra from your city, Chicago." So that leads me to believe that she has different band members every show, which is really cool. The show was divided into two acts, the first act was all Vespertine and slower, orchestra/choir heavy songs. There was a 15 min intermission, and Bjork came out in a red dress, barefoot still, and moved into her dancier songs. Matmos picked up the beats and became the dominent sound as the orchestra didnt perform at all for about 3 songs in a row. The choir left mid way into the second act and did not return till the first encore. Bjork did two encores and the second song was a song she said has never been released..."In your Hands" or something, I'm calling it. The song had lots of clapping and Matmos recorded and sampled the clapping of Bjork and her choir.

So my was a great show, but it wasnt flawless...and I know I'm getting crucified for this review, seeing that I havent spoken to any of the other reviewers that attended the show...but I'm going to stand by my opinion, and I do consider myself a big Bjork fan.

Amen and goodnight.

--S. Chyba - Chicago-

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