Arts & Culture Review

Review: Bjork – All is Full of love by Blackbird Ensemble

Keira Stephenson
Written by Keira Stephenson

So, you fancy going to Burning Man, or perhaps Splore, but you can’t be fucked with the travel and if you’re really being honest with yourself, you also hate camping and queuing for portaloos. The no alcohol policy is also really annoying. Let’s face it, it’s probably your destiny to stay home watching bad TV.

Well, fear not – symphonic soundscapers Blackbird Ensemble have created a fairy light-lit, festival experience for the likes of you. All you have to do, to is sit back in a darkened room at Q Theatre, drink the wine from handy plastic stemware that you don’t even need to sneak in, and spend the next hour-and-a-half immersed in the power ballads and pop hits of Bjork – as reimagined by the talented musicians who make up Blackbird Ensemble.… as if Bjork wasn’t quite crazy and weird enough on her own.

As soon as this orchestral tour de force enters the stage dressed as bio-hazard-suited mad scientists and fairies from some futuristic fantasy-world, their white costumes cleverly forming backdrops for the psychedelic light displays played across them, you know you’re in for an intense, but dreamy musical journey.

Incredible horn, string, piano, electronic and percussion musicians in their own right, the orchestra is accompanied by some major singing talent with Teeks walking on looking like a magnetic cult leader, Sarah Belkner playing a demented, egg-producing sprite and Anna Coddington, belting out the ballads in her high priestess, high fashion, princess outfit. Of the singers, it is Jessie Cassin who achieves the most Bjork-like sound, admirably reproducing that powerful, otherworldly, ceremonial chanting that the Icelandic singer is famous for.

If a seated theatre performance trumps a festival I still have to admit to a desire to wander past the stage as though at a theme park during the show. There were definitely also times when the digitally enhanced orchestra was cranking out drum n’ Bassy/trip-hoppy beats in songs like State of Emergency or producing an almost marching band type feel in songs like Safe Again with you, that had me wishing I was on a dance floor rather than in tiered seating…

It was unfortunate that despite some of Bjork’s great dance tunes and rocking percussion section, including a great clap dance number, the only time the audience got to their feet was for a standing ovation at the end.

They’re not Bjork, but they capture the intense, emotional, experimental tenor of her music recreate a magical festival experience on stage.

While any tribute band might leave you a little sad that you’re not experiencing the real thing, these musicians recreate a musical experience Bjork would surely approve of.

About the author

Keira Stephenson

Keira Stephenson

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