Björk at the Craneway Pavilion Ages Ago

(oh look it’s another gem from the drafts folder)

Ages ago (May 2013?), Cassie and I and a bunch of folks went to see Björk at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, which used to be part of the Ford Assembly Plant there. It’s suitably cavernous and industrial, but they’ve done a good job of sprucing it up as a venue. Because of its location on the edge of the Bay, some people arrived by ferry, which was pretty cool.

The show was in the round, with a central stage surrounded by a standing area and then tiered seating. The audience was a very mixed crowd, including lots of hippies (and pregnant women, for some reason). At first, we sat down, but when it became clear that there were going to be hippies expressing themselves through dance in front of us, we stood up and moved into the crowd. It wasn’t a mosh pit, so it was OK. Anything rather than watch hippies dance.

The music was mostly taken from Biophilia, which seems to be the soundtrack for a weird episode of Wildlife On One. In fact, David Attenborough had been roped in to record little introductions to each song. Björk herself was looking very much the part, with a huge crazy red rats-nest hairdo.She was accompanied by a choir of ethereal looking singers, apparently also from Iceland. They alternately stood like ghosts and danced like nutters.

Also on the stage was all kinds of unusual musical kit. Chaps with laptops (actually pretty standard these days), that amazing interactive surface thing she’s used before, and a harpist. There were some big pendulums too, but I don’t think they made a noise.

And let’s not forget the Tesla coil that descended on the stage from time to time and played the bass line to some of the songs, in a harsh powerful voice. This was used most memorably in the last song, Declare Independence.

I was only a little sad they didn’t play the Fluke remix of Big Time Sensuality, which has always been a favourite of mine. That intro! But this was about the new stuff, and rightly so.

Great show. Lots to look at and listen to, and the feeling that you’d been to a special event in a unique space.

Björk was never a huge thing for me. The Sugarcubes were on the scene when I got into that kind of indie rock – it was all Birthday, Eat The Menu (still a favourite of mine) and Planet with “Shouting” Einar on Transmission at 3am on Sunday (before Dennis Pennis came along and ruined it).

Then they got all popular with Hit when I was at college. When she went solo, it wasn’t a surprise, but the music was. It was a staple at many parties, and most shelves had a copy, except mine. I didn’t feel the need, it was everywhere anyway. Since then she’s never stayed still, and I’m glad I had to chance to see such an iconic performer in such a cool show.