So what did everyone get for their £45 plus booking fee? Well, it bought two musicians playing all kinds of laptops and occasionally two or three unspectacular handmade instruments. It bought recordings of national treasure Sir David Attenborough introducing the tracks from ‘Biophilia’. It was a bit like a rich man’s version of ‘Tubular Bells’ but without the humour. It bought some accompanying videos which are pretty dull in the main. It bought an all-female Icelandic choir called Graduale Nobili who flounced about and sang beautifully. And it bought the chance to watch Bjork amble round the stage in an orange wig. The music’s not too good either and on first listen there’s nothing here to compliment the great songs she’s produced in the past. In fact it’s all rather underwhelming and wasn’t worth it. From the snippets of lyrics I hear, Bjork sings about fire and gravity and tectonic plates and crystals and the moon, though strangely, and I could be wrong here, not one word about volcanoes. You would have thought volcanoes with their loud bangs and flashes of light would have be perfect fodder for this project but for some reason Bjork chose to ignore these noisy natural giants.
Oddly former punk Bjork employed an army of security personnel to stalk the auditorium while she performs. Their sole mission it seems is to prevent anyone talking a picture of Bjork with a cheap camera or mobile phone, though quite why isn’t really made clear. However it’s rather amusing to later find that some or all of the new tracks played tonight will be released as ‘apps’ which one can download onto a mobile phone. One has to wonder it’s a subtle attempt to educate people about the ecology using the wonders of the latest technology, or a novel way to exploit an untapped revenue stream. Obviously whether you’re a fan of Bjork or not will inform your opinion, I would though ask you though, to dispose of your mobile phone carefully because the toxic substances contained in this new technology are having a deleterious impact on the ecology in the form of landfill.
I can’t deny that I was genially excited at the prospect of seeing Bjork in such an unusual setting. Sadly though, I feel now that both music and presentation rarely worked well and was on the whole nothing less than a disappointment. However I can supply the answer to one riddle. In the little ‘Biophilia’ booklet that was handed to everyone as they walked into Campfield Market Hall, one reads that a facet of this new project is the creation of a music school to teach children about Bjork’s musings on Science and technology. If one reads further, one finds that this is sponsored by none other than Manchester Airport. Ahh, so that’s why there’s no songs about volcanoes.
Review by Phil King – and sadly none of his fantastic photos here!