Music Reviews

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Radio City Music Hall, New York
Wednesday, May 2


Her last album featured only the sound of human voices, but with her latest release "Volta," Bjork seems to have entered her "Tusk" phase. With its pounding percussive rhythms, elaborate instrumentations and at times industrial beats, the music has a propulsive quality that is nearly engulfing.

That immersive quality was well realized in her Radio City Music Hall performance Wednesday, marking the first night of her North American tour. Accompanied by many of the performers who appear on her album -- including the innovative Congolese band Konono No. 1 (who also served as the opening act); a 10-member, all-female brass section (wearing what looked like neon-colored togas); and such guest artists as the singer Antony and the Chinese pipa player Min Xiao-Fen -- Bjork delivered a rousing performance that galvanized the sold-out house.

The show appropriately began with the thunderous album opener "Earth Intruders" and featured most of the songs from the new release as well as such fan favorites as "Joga," "Army of Me" and "The Anchor Song" (the latter performed in Icelandic). Dressed relatively demurely in an orange dress and metallic gold leggings, the singer clearly was relishing the elaborateness of the show's production.

Bjork, whose onstage comments were minimal, was in particularly powerful voice, even if she did need to occasionally strain to be heard over the loud, bass-heavy sound mix. She frequently hopped and ran in place with a physicality that apparently extended to Antony, who in their superb debut "Dull Flame of Desire" manically jumped up and down as if he was being fed electrical charges.

The show featured more than its share of quiet but still-powerful moments as well, like Bjork's tremulous rendition of "I See Who You Are," accompanied by Min's delicate playing.

The physical production, featuring video screens, swirling lights and elaborate laser projections, well complemented the enveloping power of the music.
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