Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeIn yet another intimate, $10-evening at the Pabst Theatre, the pleasing acoustics of the venue warmly projected the angelic sounds that emerged from the ear-catching Antony & The Johnsons. With a vocal talent comparable to Nina Simone or Jeff Buckley, who easily waiver between male and female timbres, Antony Hegarty's voice is as strangely beautiful and even more androgynous than the aforementioned vocal stand-outs, and his song-writing reveals an equally complete artist. As Hegarty's ethereal voice was softly accompanied by his own piano playing on grand piano and the accompaniment of a quartet of strings, the performance took on an operatic feel with Hegarty's voice leading the way throughout.
Standouts included the gentle "You Are My Sister" and "Man Is the Baby." In a brilliant combination of voice and strings, "Hope There's Someone" added the most stirring moments in the show, while a version of Leonard Cohen's "The Guests" added the most haunting. Proving to have a sense of humor, Hegarty led the crowd through a cover of Whitney Houston's "I Want To Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" that included a humorous chorus dedicated to the loving of "Shania Twain" and a strange story of singing a song with the animals in the stables during the birth of Jesus. Sisters Bianca and Sierra Cassidy, from the opening act CocoRosie, joined in the strange aside adding back-up vocals. A vocal treat on their own, opener CocoRosie were delectable with Hegarty joining them earlier in "Beautiful Boys," and opener and headliner alike received a standing ovation at the end of their set. With the song-writing sensibilities of a Lou Reed infused in "Candy Says", Antony & The Johnsons were a mysterious and refreshing walk through alleys of sound that echo the voice of an angel, and well-worthy of all the recent applause.
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