Heavenly host

By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  February 26, 2009
Antony and The Johnsons

"You can't top perfection," Antony said with an arch pause (right after a jarringly tense and pathological interpretation of Beyoncû's "Crazy in Love"), "but you can sidle up next to it." Delighted with the laughs this line won, he led the audience through several group recitations of it for practice, the third round of which even included a choreographed upward fling of the arms at the end. For a man who had to sit in silence for a full minute before attaining the emotional condition necessary to play "Twilight," he's good for some laughs: cracking on Apple computers, engaging zealous devotees in the dark (heckler: "Can I put my hands on you, Antony?" Antony: "I have to question your motives"), snatching a fruit basket from his green room and awarding it as a door prize to a showgoer who declared freedom from Internet slavery. A solid 20 minutes of banter seemed only a little excessive; if anything, it melted some of the mystery through which so much of what he does tends to be filtered.

Which isn't to say the show wasn't heavy — it was. At times, the hall was still enough to hear his lips part around a syllable; at others, his voice swept the whole room up in its arms. Throughout, it was clear that Antony is enough of a showman to give everything he has to each song, but also enough of a host to know when to temper the intensity. When the house lights finally came up at the finale (a fan-relieving encore performance of "Hope There's Someone"), people quietly filled the aisles, dragging their sweater sleeves over their tear tracks. Crying light indeed.

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