February 17, 2005
Antony & the Johnsons@The Drake Hotel
I caught the early show at The Drake Hotel in Toronto last night. Antony and the Johnsons were making their second appearance in less than a year in the city. At least according to a shouted comment to Antony when he mentioned playing Toronto previously. With the man and woman who made up 'The Johnsons' on this night in their places, Antony made his way to the stage in black wig, black jeans, and some kind of black, torn, and tattered, '1976 Sex Pistols' looking top over a white shirt. The voice, his voice, as many of you know, is larger than life, and so very nearly is Antony himself -- a much larger man than I could or would have imagined. Somehow this incongruity made his vulnerable and emotional singing more powerful, as he began to sing My Lady Story, I was taken aback by the sheer richness of his tone live. He worked his way through about half of the songs on 'I Am A Bird Now' (Secretly Canadian), sprinkling older songs such as Cripple and the Starfish and Lake into the short set. Showing a great sense of humour, at one point he stood from his piano bench and clutching the mic stand began to sway and sing... Oh! wanna dance with somebody/I wanna feel the heat with somebody, saying that it was on the radio on the drive into the city -- then acting out pushing radio buttons and saying over and over, "Something about hockey... something about hockey... something about hockey...', until the radio settled on the Whitney Houston track.
Ably backed by Rob Moose on violin and acoustic guitar, and Julia Kent, from Vancouver, on cello, it was a great show which had the small crowd, in The Drake's intimate Underground setting, on it's feet demanding an encore... for which it was rewarded.
at 7:19 PM