Antony Hour

March 19, 2007


A week ago Friday we were lucky enough to sneak into a seat at BAM for a
night we had been anticipating for weeks - Antony and his Johnsons
with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, conducted by Michael Christie, with
arrangements by composer and occasional FADER contributor Nico Muhly.
The show had a really intense lighting design element but it started
off with the house and the stage both in pitch black darkness - you
could vaguely see a figure in white move out to the center of
the stage. When Antony's voice opened up it was a surreal experience.
In some sense, the point of going to see Antony live is to get
the full thrust of his out-ness: the voice, the ripped outfits, the
hyper self-conscious stage persona, the twitching hand waves and body
gyrations that seem to tick out of the same place somewhere in his core that his monumental
vibrato comes from. But there we
were, seeing Antony live, and it was just his voice.

Slowly, over the
course of the show, more and more was revealed - first the spotlight
on Antony with no musicians in sight, then a scrim revealed the
Johnsons and the Philharmonic, then the scrim came up and everyone was
in full view together. At one point the wall of lights behind the
Philharmonic blasted out into the house and we were revealed, too (not
to mention partially blinded - not every part of an Antony show is
comfortable). The music too was fantastic, with songs ranging from old
favorites to new compositions to a cover of "Crazy In Love." On "Crazy
In Love" the audience didn't really realize what was happening until
Antony got to the chorus, as Muhly had reduced Rich Harrison's
frenetic, barn-storming street stomper into a tense but very
restrained river of minor key piano and strings. It was really funny
when Antony sang "Got me hoping you'll page me right now" - the
thought of Antony having a pager - but otherwise it turns out that,
lyrically, "Crazy In Love" is a lot like an Antony song. Check the
lyrics if you don't already know them. The re-contextualization was
interesting not just because of the obvious stuff like gender play,
but also because it asked what other intense emotions might be
secreted away in our favorite party-tyme pop anthems. Antony also did
"Cripple and the Starfish" and "Rapture," but the highlights of the
show were two new songs. We aren't totally sure of the titles, but we
suspect one is called "Snake" - a huge and complex song centered
around the image of a snake shedding its skin - and the other "Dust
and Water" - an incredibly stripped down song in which Muhly basically
calls for a drone from the Johnsons and the Phil, which gives Antony
an almost static platform from which to show off his incredible voice
and, in this case, a sort of darting and diving sense of melody. Anyway, we could go on and on
about this show, but we'll stop there and just say hot damn - we can't
wait for Antony's next album.

Posted: March 19, 2007
Antony Hour