Antony and the Johnsons @ Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium – February 24, 2009

Antony & The Johnsons

with William Basinski

Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA; February 24th, 2009

You know how I know I’m getting old? Because now when I go to shows I get really excited if it’s a seated event. I also, for the last couple of years, will show up extra early at certain venues that have limited seating so that I can claim my seat and sit my lazy ass down before the show even starts. So when I heard a while back that Antony and the Johnsons would be coming to SF for the Noise Pop Festival I was happy to hear they were playing at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium. Not only had I never been to a show there, but we got pretty decent seats in the balcony.

The first time I ever listened to Cripple and the Starfish I actually cried because it was so heartbreaking. Ever since I have been a huge fan and couldn’t wait to see them live. Opening for the band was William Basinski who Antony explained to the audience was a major influence to him when he was growing up. Basinski‘s music was more of an ethereal soundscape playing in the background while the crowd got settled in their seats. He was making music using a laptop and two strange devices that I could not identify. The audience asked him to explain what he was using at the end of his set but he did not.

Antony and his band quietly took stage; he sat down at his piano and instantly commanded the attention of the audience with the beautiful intensity of his voice. The first half of the set consisted mostly of new material. I had listened to the new album The Crying Light a few times before that night, but hearing it live in a space with such great sound brought it completely alive. I think Antony has a voice that you either completely love or you completely hate. I happen to love it and got completely lost in it during every song. About half way through the set he began to sing a song that I vaguely recognized. After a few seconds I realized it was Beyonce‘s Crazy In Love. I had seen a performance of this on YouTube, but the rendition he played at this show was way more haunting and lovely. I searched around on YouTube and found a video of him covering the song at another show in Toronto.

A few times throughout the show Antony chatted with the audience. He was very charming and witty. I think I would actually pay to just sit and listen to him talk and tell stories because he’s so adorable. At one point he told the crowd how much he hates it when audience members shout out song requests, saying it reminded him of children begging for candy. Just after his remark he went on to play what I imagine are crowd favorites. He also performed a two song encore that ended the night on a perfect note. I thought it was an incredible show. If you get the opportunity to see Antony and the Johnsons live do go see them, you will not be disappointed.

Setlist:

Where is my Power?
Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground
Epilepsy Is Dancing
One Dove
For Today I Am a Boy
Kiss My Name
Everglade
Another World
Shake that Devil
Crazy in Love (Beyoncé cover)
Fistful of Love
You Are My Sister
Aeon
Encore:
Cripple and the Starfish
Hope There’s Someone