T + 250 Antony & The Johnsons

On Friday night Gareth and I went to see Antony at the Johnsons at the Symphony Hall

The concert was set to start 19:45, 15 minutes later than stated on the ticket which at least gave me time to make our way up  the 47 flights of stairs to our seats in the second row of the grand tier.

Before Antony came on there was what was described as a "short introductory act" rather than a support act. This consisted on a half spot on the front of the stage where, to the accompaniment to quite industrial, metallic, slightly discordant electronic music, a woman came on made various hand movements wearing a white diaphanous robe. Yes it was as weird as it sounds but strangely affecting all the same, though probably better if you were closer to the action. 

After a brief costume change into a bird-like costume the performer came back and the spot changed to show a pattern of broken lines which resembled a nest and the performers movements were like those of a fledgling flying for the first time. 

The final part of this introductory was the least appealing, whilst the performer was getting changed the music had an undercurrent of pig like noises to it but when she came on it switched to Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg and she pranced around a little like a horse. This piece of music didn't sit well with the two previous ultra-modern pieces. 

Unfortunately I've not been able to find out the name of the act and it wasn't announced on the night.

Then without any interval out came Antony and the Johnsons. The line up consisted of Antony seated at the grand piano, a bassist, drummer, two violins, cello and saxaphone. One of the fiddle players doubled up on the acoustic guitar and the saxaphonist sometimes played the electric guitar.

The sound was excellent and Antony's unique voice and haunting melancholic melodies came over  much more powerfully than they do when played on CD / iTunes. ( Though in part  that could be my speakers ). In between songs a couple of times Antony stopped to giving halting, rambly talks sometimes about the song he was about to play and sometimes totally random things like the hotel they stayed in last time they came to Birmingham. The effect was quite charming.

All in all it was an excellent concert only spoiled slightly by the very subdued lighting that didn't really work for us because of our high position but probably looked very good on a lower level.


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