Customer Review

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the Best Concert Film Ever!, 1 Jan 2003
This review is from: Bjork: Live At The Royal Opera House [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
An intriguing little side note to Bjork's phenomenal performance at London's Royal Opera House at the end of 2001 is that, when she proposed to perform there originally, the establishment refused ... a little deal with the BBC later secured Bjork's place in pop music history as the first pop star to perform at the highbrow venue. Although this DVD did ruffle some fan's feathers over its release date (first July, then August, then November!), it stands as the most blisteringly beautiful live concert video in the chanteuse's 'Live DVD Series' and, to be quite honest, leaves all viewers baffled as to why Bjork's offer was initially declined in the first place. Sure, her output here isn't exactly what the Royal Opera House is used to, but as she powerhouses alongside her merry band of players, her work from her four English albums strongly resonates as an operatic masterpiece in its own right.
Playing alongside gay electronica duo Matmos, contemporary harpist Zeena Parkins, an 11-piece Inuit choir, conductor Simon Lee and a 56-piece orchestra, Bjork's gorgeous soundscapes and melodies have never sounded so full of life and vitality before. The first half is dominated with songs from her 2001 masterwork "Vespertine", which saw her combine minimalist beats with swoony orchestrations and music boxes. In her eskimo boots and white dress, watching her perform "All Is Full Of Love" and "Hidden Place" is a joy to behold. The second half sees a costume change into a red thrush-style dress with bells jingling as she moves, signifying the uptempo nature of the second act. Here classics such as "Hyperballad" and "Possibly Maybe" are given more blood by the contributions from her players ... but "Human Behaviour" is the showstopper, with the heartbreaking "Joga" a close second.
Bjork's savvy also lies in her selection of cohorts for her tour; she was ably supported by the likes of Talvin Singh and Guy Sigsworth for her "Debut" days, and her collaboration with the Icelandic String Octet and Mark Bell on "Homogenic" secured a monumental string of performances all over the world (see "Cambridge 1998" DVD). But here the Icelander really outdoes herself ... Matmos' beats are subtle and off-key in their arrangements and production (see "Cocoon"), the choir are adorable in their Christmas bauble-style costumes and sing adorably too (see "Unison") and Zeena is a revelation, taking multiple duties of harp, celeste and accordian (the duet with Bjork, "Generous Palmstroke", offers the concert's sole mid-song ovation from the audience). And Simon and the orchestra duly supply the crushing string sections so predominant in Bjork's compositions (see "Joga"). All in all, a wonderful film!
DVD also comes with 40-minute documentary about the travails of touring the world with such a weighty duty and gangs of players; brown-nosing aplenty but, if you've seen the concert, it's more than wholly justified!
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