Friday, February 20, 2009

In Concert: Antony and the Johnsons

On Tuesday I finally witnessed Antony and the Johnsons live. My expectations were running rampant. I'd seen them several times on Letterman and other late night shows, but had yet to see how the music would translate into a full set.

We have several fantastic venues in Toronto: Massey Hall, the Danforth Music Hall, the Mod Club. We also have several that are terrible: The Molson Amphitheatre, Kool Haus, the ACC. The Queen Elizabeth Theatre at the CNE grounds was new to all of us. Recently renovated and reopened, this mid-sized venue is cavernous and a bit convention-centre-y. Not quite intimate enough, I wasn't sure what to think. And then things got going and the sound was bad. Buzzy and blown-out at the top end (poor, beautiful clarinet) - This was a set-back, but I was able to ignore it and get consumed.

Antony and his six-piece band (including one decidedly attractive silver fox on violin) played all my most-favourite songs ("Aeon", "For Today I am a Boy", "Everglades", and Beyonce's "Crazy in Love") and, much to my surprise, he mixed in funny little stories and sidebars throughout. You can hear one story, captured on YouTube, about the origin of the song "Cripple and the Starfish". He's funny and sassy and surprisingly well-timed, comically-speaking. These moments of levity took what could have been a very heavy and sad (though gorgeous) experience and fleshed it out into one of emotional highs and lows.

I'm having trouble putting the whole thing into words. For me, it's one of those concerts best left to memory. I couldn't even take my eyes off the show long enough to snap a single photo, though the one above looks exactly like the performance we saw. All I can say is, if you have the chance, see them live. Incredible.

(Photo above from Antony and the Johnsons)


  1. ive seen antony and he is beyond words. so incredible and gracious, and warm, and intense all at the same time.

    thats a great background in that shot. nice blog.

  2. TRE-
    Sometimes, but not often, I wonder onto the world wide web and stumble upon creative brilliance.

    Thanks for all the great posts.


  3. You're too kind, Scott.
    Thank you.