Posted in music | pictures on January 27, 2012

photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Rachel Kowal

Antony & The Johnsons

A thick cloak of darkness draped the stage of Radio City when Antony Hegarty began to sing. My eyes trained on his white floor-length robe, the only thing that shone through the fog and shadows.

With its piano melodies and strings arrangements, the Antony and the Johnsons discography is far from sonically lacking. But after hearing the opening measures of "Rapture," the aptly named first song of the evening, it quickly became clear that Hegarty's music was destined to be bigger. And tonight it got that chance, thanks to the addition of a talented sixty-member orchestra. Under the guidance of conductor Rob Moose, Hegarty's music unfurled and exploded into a host of symphonic crescendos. And soon, the darkness on stage subsided as one-by-one, the screens that blanketed the stage began to lift to reveal a dream-like installation of hanging 3D geometric shapes. A restrained laser show only added to the mystique, at times blanketing Antony in a twinkling world of colorful light.

It was that rare kind of performance that breaks your heart only to have the pieces lovingly reassembled, down to the tiniest, most tender bloody shard. Hegarty's lyrics may reveal inner turmoil, but filtered through his sprawling multi-octave voice and unflinching poise, the painful material becomes mesmerizing, life-affirming, and wildly triumphant.

Combining songs from all four Antony and the Johnsons albums and at least one EP, the set revealed the evolution of the band's music, as well as Heggarty's emotions. He even threw in a surprisingly moving rendition of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" (slowed down and fleshed out to make it nearly unrecognizable). Hegarty powered through the majority of the set, playing some fourteen songs without speaking. But following the dramatic unveiling of the orchestra during "Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground," Hegarty broke his spell of silence to introduce and sincerely thank everyone who helped make the MoMA-commissioned one-night event possible, including Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman) on piano and Nico Muhly who - along with Maxim Moston and Rob Moose- arranged much of the music. "Well that's quite the bulk of the show," said Hegarty. "I'm so fucking glad. It was so ambitious, this production! It was really insane."

After the applause and laughter died down, Hegarty and his 60+ band mates signed off with two additional songs before the golden velvet curtain slowly made its descent, prompting the audience to collectively exhale before erupting into an elated standing ovation that resonated beautifully throughout the cavernous hall.

More pictures and the setlist from the 1/26 show, below...

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Antony & The Johnsons

Antony & The Johnsons

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Antony & The Johnsons

Antony and the Johnsons @ Radio City Music Hall in NYC
1/26/2012 setlist

Rapture
Christina's Farm
For Today I Am a Boy
Everything Is New
Another World
Crazy in Love (Beyonce cover)
Everglade
Swanlights
Ghost
I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy
Dust and Water
Cut the World
Cripple and the Starfish
Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground

Salt Silver Oxygen
The Crying Light
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Comments (66)

it was simply unbelievable, one of the most amazing things ive ever seen

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 9:53 AM

I've never seen anything like it and the sound was tremendous. It felt like a dream.

Posted by bamnyc | January 27, 2012 9:58 AM

Dude, I, I finally, I got the uh, venue I
wanted. Uh, I’m performing my dance
quintet. You know, my cycle? At Crane
Jackson’s Fountain Street Theatre on
Tuesday night, and well, I’d love it if
you came and gave me notes.

Posted by Marty | January 27, 2012 9:59 AM

That was amazing amazing amazing.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:03 AM

Life-changing beauty.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:06 AM

You're gay. We get it.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:10 AM

Do I need to be a gay to understand this?

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:11 AM

No.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:12 AM

@10:10 you can thank your mother for my gayness.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:12 AM

@10:11, no, but you do need to be a fucking douche to ask.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:12 AM

"60+ bandmates"

...um, where?

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:13 AM

a show for the ages !!

pity i can't say the same on the kindergarden level of writing on this blog.

Posted by ME | January 27, 2012 10:13 AM

10:13, behind the back curtain, revealed halfway through the performance. 10:03 + 10:13 + anonymous - you were there too, it was fucking incredible. 10:10 - you're awful, we get it.

Posted by bamnyc | January 27, 2012 10:20 AM

Fantastic show. A smattering of assholes who kept getting up to pee/grab a drink? Piss before the show, people.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:21 AM

Really sorry i missed this. Was it sold out?

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:32 AM

10:32 yes, sold out.

Posted by bamnyc | January 27, 2012 10:35 AM

"It was that rare kind of performance that breaks your heart only to have the pieces lovingly reassembled" - Ugh

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:38 AM

Wow!! Looks incredible! Really wish I could've been there to experience it.

Btw, it's ok if your not a fan of Antony's music but there's no reason to expose yourself as a juvenile halfwit in the process. Get a f--king focus on life and move on.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:48 AM

Amazing! I really liked the renditions of Rapture, Everything Is New, Everglade, I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy and Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground. During Another World, a song about the changing environment, the lights made the hanging shapes appear to be on fire, like smoldering coals or burning wood. And during the Crying Light, lasers gave the effect that Antony was in a cage while other lights shooting from below made Antony almost sparkle. Although, I'm not sure how I feel about working the Beyonce cover into this particular performance. I wish Antony came out for a curtain call! The show ended somewhat abruptly and left the audience standing around for like 10 minutes until finally the house lights came on.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 10:58 AM

Great performance. And 10:10- I'm straight and I, along with anyone with a functioning brain, realize that, to appreciate the arts, you PROBABLY shouldn't have an issue with people's sexuality. I've heard a rumor, but I think there might be a slightly disproportionately higher number of gay men/women in the performing arts. Correct me if I'm wrong...

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 11:01 AM

It was like a gourmet French meal, in that the flavors were surprising and remarkable but the portions could have been a bit bigger.

Fuck LCD - THIS was special.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 11:12 AM

Amazing except for the Beyonce cover, which wasn't bad, but was out of place.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 11:13 AM

It was cool when Eddie Van Halen came out and did the solo to "I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy". Oh, you didn't know it was Eddie on the studio version? .....

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 11:17 AM

10:11 never got Bowie either

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 11:22 AM

To the first people making comments except for 9:59, you are just laughable. Fucking morons with your over hyping bullshit.

Oh and this show was not sold out in any way shape or form. Nice try

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 11:46 AM

^^^

Good music makes people gush. Relax, little boy.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 11:49 AM

LOL11:46 didn't you get your piss all out in the other thread? Here's a tip, free of charge - comment on crowd size, performance quality, venue, etc. FOR SHOWS THAT YOU ACTUALLY ATTENDED. and before your post more lies, no you little boy you most certainly were not there.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 11:52 AM

Exceptional show, like watching a shooting star across the sky filled with northern lights.

And in reference to the haters, bright lights always bring out the cockroaches.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 11:55 AM

dear brooklyn vegan, please take away the ability to leave comments.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 12:14 PM

I am straight. I am not vegan. I am not an "artiste". I am a mathematician. "It was that rare kind of performance that breaks your heart only to have the pieces lovingly reassembled" puts it as aptly as I can imagine.

Posted by anonymous | January 27, 2012 12:23 PM

The aggressive tone in the negative comments I find so bizarre.

Feeling threatened by the other should have been curbed with evolution.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 12:43 PM

write back "little boy"..lol

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 12:53 PM

11:46 AM- Be a dick all you want, but don't lie. The show was sold out.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 1:08 PM

I bet everyone that went to this show also subscribes to the New Yorker and listens to NPR. Predictable music, predictable people. Antony is a gimmick.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 1:16 PM

^ not to mention is probably originally from Wisconsin.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 1:26 PM

peculiar comment @1:16; so if sufficient number of audience members subscribe to Guns and Ammo and listen to all-the-news-all-the-time Antony might conceivably be a gifted and inspired artist?

But there may be something to your line of reasoning. I've noticed that self-described progressives tend to be for human rights and equality and that, of course, is as gimmicky as it gets.

Posted by anonymous | January 27, 2012 1:27 PM

The idiot who posted at 11:46 is the kind of self-righteous asshole that this website is FULL OF. Those people fucking suck. And it's made this website really go downhill over the years.

Posted by M | January 27, 2012 1:29 PM

And... they're probably the same people who post regular homophobic comments.

I REALLY WISH BV WOULD MAKE THEIR READERS REGISTER IN ORDER TO LEAVE COMMENTS!!!!

I've been begging them for YEARS!

Posted by M | January 27, 2012 1:31 PM

Amazing show. Spotted Debbie Harry in the crowd.

Posted by LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH | January 27, 2012 1:33 PM

1:16-I'm a socially left-wing gun rights proponent who finds the New Yorker and NPR as boring as hell. I also like Metal, Hardcore and Punk. I just have the ability recognize great talent when I see it; and I went to the show. Swing and a miss trolling d-bag.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 1:34 PM

Wow. What an event. That long electronic opening was like two jet engines gaining altitude, the dancer was like some piece of machinery, very 1920s Paris futurism.

It was sold out enough that all the standing areas were packed. Maybe some nosebleed seats were available.

I notice that Antony became much freer about halfway through. The Crying Light was just amazingly powerful.

Posted by kurt | January 27, 2012 1:35 PM

I don't get it. I loved the striking stage design and dreamy, dramatic lighting, but the music leaves me curiously unmoved. After a song or two it starts to sound generic (like Bjork, whom I also don't understand) - trailing, frilly sounds without a backbone. The biggest applause was for the Beyonce cover, but I do like some of his older compositions.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 1:49 PM

"I'm a socially left-wing gun rights proponent who finds the New Yorker and NPR as boring as hell. I also like Metal, Hardcore and Punk. I just have the ability recognize great talent when I see it; and I went to the show. Swing and a miss trolling d-bag."

Stop trying so hard. I'm sure you're as unique of an individual as your comment suggests.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 2:26 PM

2:26 PM- *sigh*. I was simply responding in kind to an equally precise posting criticizing the attendees of the show. Reading is fundamental, but apparently innuendo isn't.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 2:39 PM

1:16 PM- I'm with ya. Me an my pappy wouldn't go to no Anthony and the Imperiales show neither.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 2:49 PM

"dear brooklyn vegan, please take away the ability to leave comments.
Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 12:14 PM "

Am I the only one that laughs uncontrollably at the irony of these type of comments?

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 2:52 PM

"Am I the only one that laughs uncontrollably at the irony of these type of comments?"

Nope. The irony isn't that funny.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 3:00 PM

what's funnier is picturing someone actually laughing uncontrollably at a comment on a message board. go outside.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 3:02 PM

3:02- I've been outside. There's nothing there.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 3:09 PM

What's funnier is that you felt compelled to post 2 comments - 3:00 and 3:02 - that lacked grace, humor and insight.

I'm sure that the retards washing the pots in the school kitchen where you work find your "humor" the highlight of their day. So, there is that.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2012 3:15 PM

I worked at this art supply store at one time and Antony came in- he was super chill and nice, totally gracious. He bought white gouache that day...

Posted by Sunskull | January 27, 2012 7:56 PM

I keep hearing the show ended abrupty. It was conceived as a kind of opera and when he walked off it was just so unassuming and perfectly in keeping with the Butoh aspect of the evening. It wasn't Riverdance you know?

I will say that this evening showed the art crowd to be the posing & pouting assholes they have always been. Some old queen on the line was telling everyone that Antony personally serenaded him when he was "a hot little Jew with a tight ass and chiseled abs".

I could not get a beer at the bar because of the "power-hipsters" ordering their personalized mixed drinks. None left tips.

And so many bad facelifts I felt like I was at a GOP fundraiser.

It's hard to imagine this crowd giving much of a damn about what Antony is trying to say. He was an empath singing to 6000 sociopaths.

ps I had a great great time.

Posted by dan | January 28, 2012 1:59 AM

dan: 5999

Posted by anon | January 28, 2012 7:09 AM

The third mezz was closed and empty for this show. It was definitely not a sellout .

Posted by Anonymous | January 28, 2012 8:12 AM

So the show had 5500 not 6000 people. Who on earth cares? It's good you missed it as it was high art and would have gone over your head.

Posted by thomas | January 28, 2012 10:03 AM

8:12 AM - How many angels fit on the head of a pin?

Posted by anon | January 28, 2012 2:10 PM

I'm a fan Exceptional voice, but for this show I might as well have been listening to a CD. Antony was nothing but a shadow - the big monitors were not used. Why not have the orchestra viewable, part of the show. And no encore! That was a slap at those who traveled far. And the much heralded light show, I hate to say it, nothing astounding. In sum, more Anthony next time, less with the trappings.

Posted by Joseph | January 28, 2012 6:40 PM

@08:12 - I was on the third mezz. It was full.

Posted by Anonymous | January 29, 2012 1:38 AM

It was amazing. But Antony sounded like mud.

I found myself leaning forward to hear her under all the string section swells. It looked like she was struggling to keep her rhythm under that thick cloud of sound.

The YouTube videos give an accurate representation of the bad sound.

The performance was not dumbed down for Radio City. Subversive and revolutionary.

Posted by kurt | January 29, 2012 7:24 AM

Ha -- funny to read all these crazy comments! I went to this show because my office manager gave me free tickets. It was fun I guess. We we had a good view from orchestra GG seats. I had never heard of this band before. This uptight guy behind me yelled at me for texting during the show. There were lots of his type there. Whatevs. Kind of lame music.I guess I'm glad it was a free show for me and my gf.

Posted by Anonymous | January 29, 2012 8:54 AM

"more Anthony next time, less with the trappings."

Uh, doesn't that describe Antony's music? It is all pretty frivolous.

Posted by Anonymous | January 29, 2012 2:55 PM

The reviewer also cries while listening to Arcade Fire and Feist

Posted by Anonymous | January 30, 2012 6:43 PM

^^ The anonymous poster cries when she gets popped in the mush and pushed into a locker by a large black gay man with a full-on stiffy.

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