Personnel: Björk (vocals); Manu Delago (percussion); The Haxan Cloak, Arca (electronics).
Audio Mixers: Chris Elms; Arca ; Björk.
Arranger: Matt Robertson.
Björk has always excelled at transforming intimate moments into compelling art that, no matter how grand its scope, retains its emotional truth. This was especially true of Vulnicura, an album that spelled out its philosophy in its title: Vulnerability is the only way to heal from pain -- even if that openness may have led to getting hurt in the first place. Björk expanded on the album's wounded but resilient beauty with Vulnicura Strings, which emphasized the music's tiny glimmers of hope with acoustic warmth, and with Vulnicura Live, which transformed it into a spectacle in keeping with her other tours. The live setting sheds some light and air on Vulnicura's darkest, most claustrophobic moments: the tumbling confessions of "Black Lake" feel less insular but somehow even more cathartic, while the gut-wrenching anxiety of "Family" and "Notget"'s strings, drums, and vocals is all the more visceral. By the time Vespertine's "Undo" arrives midway through Vulnicura Live, it's a necessary breather -- and a reflection of just how expertly balanced the set list is. Interestingly, there are no songs from Homogenic, the album with which Vulnicura shares so much musical and emotional common ground. Instead, Björk balances the angst with choices like Debut's "Come to Me," a song whose caressing seduction feels all the more bittersweet in this context, and Volta's "I See Who You Are," a quietly joyful celebration of mature love. Meanwhile, "Wanderlust" and Biophilia's "Mutual Core" reflect the volcanic changes and need to move on that can affect even the most seemingly stable relationships. While Vulnicura Live may not be the most fun of Björk's concert albums, its powerful performances still make it a joy for fans to hear. ~ Heather Phares