She's in there, among the rainforest foliage and giant fairy-lit lotus flowers
Throughout her career, Björk’s relationship with conformity has seldom been a smooth one, and in the past decade has become virtually non-existent to the point where, today, her wildly leftfield imagination almost holds more appeal than her actual songs. But even by Bjorkian standards, her latest answer to the question of how to headline a major music festival is bold: shortly after sundown on Thursday evening, the Primavera main stage transforms into a thicket of rainforest foliage and giant fairy-lit lotus flowers surrounding a six-foot high revolving vagina, from which are born Bjork’s band for the evening: an all-female flute septet and a harpist. A laptop operator and electronic drummer lurk in the wings, just in front of a huge screen displaying images of exotic seabirds, digitally fractured renaissance stained glass, and 3D renderings of the singer herself as a hybrid biosynthetic android queen.
While it’s hard to believe anyone attending a Bjork gig in 2018 is expecting ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’, it’s also quickly apparent that the coming 90 minutes will be Bjork at her most high-concept: a statement scrolls up the screens beforehand imploring readers to “imagine a world where nature and technology collaborate, and then make a song about it”, and to “imagine something that doesn’t exist and demand space for hope, weave a matriarchal dome”. The setlist draws heavily on ‘Utopia’, her newest and toughest record, rarely alighting on anything familiar to the casual Bjork fan, and her vision is clear and pure: this is a show about womanhood, the ecology and human survival and rebirth, told with seriousness, tenderness and huge amounts of passion, and any toe-tapping melodies that happen to creep in along the way should be chalked up as a bonus.