Clickity Clack Clack!
These are the words I usually use to describe my favorite songstress Björk. Her Icelandic/British accent is a jumble of sounds more than a true voice to me.
But last night her voice brought less of a sound into my ears than a feeling into my heart.
Radio City Music Hall had the honor of hosting Björk, with her entourage of Matmos and as she herself spouted out, "a choir from Greenland", as well as Zeena Parkins, her avant-garde harpist/ accordionist.
I entered the evening as I would any such grand event - resplendent in tailcoat, ascot and beauty mark. But to my dismay, many were in simple, high street fashions, paying no respect to such a great Hall. Although I must admit there were many signs of utter individuality - massive platform shoes mixed with a teal green cocktail gown glittering with jewels, a beard with a 3-foot braid hanging like an elephant's trunk and hair every colour of the rainbow.
The stage was set like a laboratory, covered with a huge mat of white plastic. Chords ran askew. A smattering of lamps, as well as harps, music boxes in two sizes and microphones were strewn about. In the corner was a sort of open cage filled with computers and machinery, the function of which I will never grasp. This is where Matmos performed.
Maybe it was my positioning in the Hall (the second to last row on the third mezzanine!) but I felt as if I was in a medical class during the Age of Enlightenment when the students were stacked one above the other observing the Doctor perform some sort of gruesome act all in the name of science. Maybe this vision came to me while Matmos was on stage and one of them stroked the other with some sort of utensil with a camera attached. The man’s hair, teeth and skin magnified greatly were projected onscreen while making all sorts of strange noises derived from the man's shifting texture. Not for the faint of heart. Then they proceeded to use a birdcage as an instrument, playing it with a violin bow until I nearly had to leave my seat from annoyance. The grand finale was like a made for TV infomercial that I would like to call, “FUN WITH BALLOONS”. They blew up balloons and wet their palms to make noises on the surfaces until they had enough balloons to form a bunch, which they nonchalantly hoisted into the air of this great deco hall. The duo then pulled the bunch down and popped them with great aplomb. This moment was of great excitement to some and of great eye rolling to the rest of us.
Then came the master surgeon. All was quiet when a music box began to play. A backlight illuminated her on stage. She was in THE dress - a swan, but this time encrusted in pearls. There she sat, playing her music box in her lap while bits of snow fell around her.
The moment could not have been more perfect. Just me and this elegant, isolated creature. You see, to me, this is happiness. The Björk I know on stage (not the Björk I meet in the street or in a bar) is something all my own. I enjoy her independently. I experience this event by myself as I did her last concert in London. In my mind, she is that first bite of Belgium chocolate and the orange sun rising over the skyline of Istanbul. She is the first time I saw Nôtre Dame and the first pill of ecstasy I ingested. With Björk and I, it's always the first time.
Listening to her sing regurgitates the feelings deep within that I thought I could feel only once.
Of course she did all of the things that make us love her. The dancing, jumping and the "sank eew very much’es". Her next costume was a red-shingled piece, which exploded into a bell of red and black ostrich feathers at her pelvis. She effortlessly played hula dancer as the feathers swayed to and fro while dissecting notes and electronic bleeps. The choir from Greenland clapped hands and swayed in traditional costumes, while behind them images ranging from Fjords and futuristic Christmas cookies shared a screen with bizarre sea creature-esque images (enter Enlightenment Era medical classroom theory, encore une fois).
She ended her lesson with an as yet unreleased song, which exclaims, "It’s all there in our hands!" And tonight Björk, I was in yours.