Search

Bjork at All Points East: Utopian flutes undeterred by lightning, indifference

PUBLISHED: 18:01 28 May 2018 | UPDATED: 23:08 28 May 2018

Bjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago Felipe

Bjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago Felipe

2018 Santiago Felipe

What’s the difference between a headline festival set and an intimate gig for diehard fans? Not, apparently, a question that concerned Bjork in preparation for her first UK show promoting the Utopia LP.

Bjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago FelipeBjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago Felipe

Never knowingly one to fulfil expectations, Bjork’s 41-year career has been a series of challenges to the traditional conception of a pop star, and this show was the latest attack on such notions.

Few would doubt her artistry, commitment to boundary-pushing and iconic vocal style – but some might question the wisdom of placing her alongside the more crowd-pleasing headliners of previous nights.

Bjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago FelipeBjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago Felipe

In this respect, Bjork did not exactly do herself any favours.

She appeared on stage at the centre of a rotating utopian island of greenery, sporting a Star Trek alien/orchid mask and surrounded by a troupe of likewise-masked flautists, while visualisations of explosively blooming flowers kept time with the beats of Arisen My Senses.

Bjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago FelipeBjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago Felipe

Although the opening was suitably bold and the rest of the set contained many memorable moments, such as a stunning tableau of the flautists battling against the elements during Notget, in general you could feel the audience’s patience being tested as one after another flute-based track with nature-based visualisations was performed.

Moments of excitement were provided by an angry-looking stormcloud on the horizon, whose many thunderbolts were assumed to have been summoned by the force-of-nature vocalist on stage - a more fitting trick for her Biophilia period.

Bjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago FelipeBjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago Felipe

Tellingly, the storm distracted large sections of the crowd from the intricate set design and beautifully delicate melodies.

A rare moment of engagement with the new material was provided during Tabula Rasa, the crowd responding with a cheer to “It is time/ For us women to rise/ And not just take it lying down”, and again when Bjork ended the song with a declaration of “Me Too!”

Bjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago FelipeBjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago Felipe

A palpable sense of relief greeted each fan favourite from earlier eras, flute-based versions of Isobel and Human Behaviour eliciting welcome moments of recognition.

Bjork took to Instagram after the show to express her gratitude to “londeners [with] ears wide open to my utopian flute experiment” and it was clear that the crowd, in spite of the uncompromising setlist, was grateful to be in Bjork’s presence.

Bjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago FelipeBjork on stage during her Sunday night set at All Points East in Victoria Park. Picture: Santiago Felipe

One expects, however, that playing a few more danceable tracks, or taking this show to a concert hall, might have been a better fit.

3.5/5

Related articles

Latest Hackney Stories

48 minutes ago

Clapton boss Jonny Fowell had plenty of praise for Barkingside manager Michael Walther despite sealing a 3-0 victory against his side on Friday evening.

Josh Coulson discussed coming up against two old team-mates and how O’s have a job to do

The Spurs forward reflected on the 2-1 win at Brighton & Hove Albion and the focus on his form

10:00

Middlesex captain Dawid Malan admitted his side didn’t bat well enough on day one of their County Championship Division Two match at Durham.

09:00

Amid an underwhelming season at Middlesex one man at least can allow himself a quiet smile of satisfaction.

07:51

Stuart Law will leave his role as West Indies head coach to take over at Middlesex from next season.

A tenant of Hackney Council has been forced to pay nearly £148,000, after an investigation found he had been illegally subletting his property whilst living elsewhere.

From start-ups to household names, the Gazette takes to the streets each week to find and profile a local business with a difference. This week we spoke to a Newington Green cobbler who has been fixing and flogging shoes to the community for the past 35 years.



Newsletter Sign Up

Hackney Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists