Sunday, March 1, 2009

Antony at the Vogue

This past Friday le tout SFU was out in force at the Vogue Theatre to catch Antony and the Johnsons for the only Vancouver date on their current tour. Richard and I were meeting our friends (and my colleagues) Chris and Carolyn, and we were all under the mistaken impression that it was reserved rather than festival seating. When we arrived the line-up was already snaking around the corner, and we passed no less than six of my former students while making our way to the end of it--including Matt, who was the very first in line, and consequently snagged prime front row seats. As it happened, another former student, Sean, whom we encountered a little further along in the line-up, ended up saving us four seats in the second row. An amazingly generous and selfless act on his part, which we subsequently rewarded by abandoning said seats for the balcony, as there was a massive fan blowing cold air directly above us. Sorry Sean!

In the end, our seats were just fine. Antony himself was in full voice, the band was tight, and the between song patter as loopily strange and sweet and wise as only Antony--with his unique and fragile take on the world--can make it. Highlights of the evening included Antony making violinist Maxim Mostad blush while serenading him by way of introduction; guitarist and violinist Rob Moose's hep and jazzy socks; rockin' versions of "For Today I Am a Boy" and "Fistful of Love"; an even more stylin' cover of Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love"; and a delightfully wacky and surreal back and forth with the audience about disappearing salmon, rivers of milk, and environmental depredation that preceded a final encore of "Twilight." I include video excerpts of these last three for those of you who couldn't be there on Friday:

Antony told us at one point, during a long disquisition on cities, sustainability, and social engineering in the context of mega-projects like the Olympics (which involved an amazing analogy to beehives), that he was developing a special fondness for Vancouver. I took this to be a reference to his last visit to the city, which was as a special invited guest to the TransSomaTechnics conference organized by Susan Stryker at SFU Harbour Centre this past May. Generous person that she is, Susan arranged for me to interview Antony in front of the assembled conference participants, and then to introduce a command solo performance that he gave us on the grand piano that had been wheeled onto the stage of the lecture hall. It was an amazing experience, and memories of it made last Friday's concert all the more special.


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