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Björk triumphs at Carnegie Hall

Björk performs at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, March

Björk performs at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Credit: Kevin Mazur

Björk stood at the edge of the stage, raising her fist as she loudly sang, "I am not hurt."

The Carnegie Hall capacity crowd screamed its support and Björk, perhaps for the first time in her 90-minute show Saturday afternoon, cracked a smile.

There was, after all, cause for worry.

The first half of the show was dedicated to her new "Vulnicura" album, which wrenchingly details the struggles and collapse of her relationship with artist Matthew Barney. Aided by the 15-piece string section of Alarm Will Sound, percussionist Manu Delago and keyboardist Arca, Björk delivered songs of her relationship turmoil chronologically.

"Maybe he will come out of this," she sings early in "Lionsong," dressed in white with some sort of sparkly jellyfish-like clear headdress that also covered her face. "Maybe he won't. Somehow, I'm not bothered either way."

During the 11-minute "Black Lake," it all falls apart. Though she still playfully trills her r's and stomps occasionally, reliving the relationship's end weighs on Björk, who doesn't look at the audience during the song, but at the floor or the back wall. There are lengthy pauses -- where the only sound is a single sustained note -- that seem to give Björk time to gather her energy to continue.

When she returned from intermission, though, Björk became hopeful. She wore a lavender dress, her face visible for the first time, declaring, "The pleasure is all mine to get to be the generous one." Her set list shifted to happier sentiments with warmer sounds, seemingly ready to start again, as she reached back to her 1993 album "Debut" for a lovely version of "Come to Me."

Björk was looking to prove that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Following the breakup, Björk's career has certainly grown stronger. "Vulnicura" hits stores March 23. A retrospective of her work opens Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art. And she has sold-out shows around the metropolitan area set for the rest of this month, including a return to Carnegie Hall next week.

As she left the stage Saturday, Björk jumped up and down with joy. No, she is not hurt.

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