Antony and the Johnsons in Concert

Antony and the Johnsons lived up to their second albums (I Am a Bird Now,) critical hype when they played an intimate show at LAs historic Egyptian-inspired Vista Theater. Performing before the red curtain that covers the movie screen, Antony and his band, the Johnsonsbass, violin, guitar, and a mournful cellocovered songs as diverse as Leonard Cohens The Guests and the Supremes/Kim Wilde hit You Keep Me Hangin On in their signature haunting jazz/blues fashion, while also doing their own material justice, sounding better live than on disc. With very little talking and no movement around the stage, Antony sat at his piano and moved the enthusiastically appreciative audience with his operatic, searching voice and poetic lyrics. Theres something so intimate and emotional in Antonys melancholy, quavering voice, its almost an uncomfortable experience, like listening in on someones private thoughts. At the same time, theres an undeniable liberating element to being so immersed in anothers raw emotion. And it takes a rare talent to take a pop confection like Whitney Houstons I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) and turn it moody and brooding. Highlights were Cripple and the Starfish and You Are My Sister, originally recorded with Boy George. They played an hour-long set and then one short encore where they covered Velvet Undergrounds Candy Says.