Bjork was in town last night, playing at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. I took a taxi there after work and got together with a couple of friends to watch her.
The Budokan, with a maximum capacity of 15,000 people, was sold out. Security was not particularly strict going in (I was politely asked if I had a camera), but very high strung once inside (We had the misfortune of sitting right where a security guard was posted, and had to put up with his half-panicked skittering and jitterbugging around for the whole concert as if he'd been put in charge of a busload of football fans.)
Bjork was a powerhouse of vocal passion, and her band was an impressive mix of the old and the new, ranging from what looked like a clavichord played by a man who could have been your banker uncle to electronic gadgets that appeared more like Star Trek weaponry (and sounded like it too!) than musical instruments - and manipulated by a guy that looked like a Miami surfer.
Bjork was, of course, a massive hit with the crowd. The strong shamanistic element of her music and performance, although universal in appeal, strikes a particularly deep chord in Japan where that tradition is still very strong. The last song, especially, when the brass backing band (all female) came down on stage all doing a mad jerky dance while Bjork whipped the house up to a furious finale had distinct similarities to the kind of street dancing you often see in Japan.
Bjork plays the Budokan again on the 22nd. What's on in Tokyo right now.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008