The first time I encountered the voice of Antony Hegarty it completely blew me away.
It was definitely a case of 'What the...? Who the fuck is that...!?'
His voice, if you haven't encountered it for yourself, well, all I can say is that it's pretty unlikely you've encountered anything like it before.
Unique it is; but if I was forced to find a simile, I guess I'd describe it as the bastard mutated child of a marriage between the voice of John Martyn and that of Nina Simone.
Interesting that I could only find similarities with artists no longer living.
As mortality, the concern with death - death of self; death of identity; death of gender - is at the heart of much of Antony's material.
In the true metaphysical sense - and I do believe there are many comparisons that can be made with what is identifiable as 'metaphysical' in Antony's work - mortality and the concern for the soul is essentially his muse.
The result; the expression, can be heavy: deeply affecting.
I have heard his music described as truly soulful - again in the metaphysical sense - it is, absolutely.
It emanates from his soul.
His song structures often ascend, dramatically, breathlessly, delineated brilliantly by the building intensity of the music and of course that voice.
'Hope There's Someone' is undoubtedly the finest example of this, but it's noticeable in so much of his work.
He's quite painful to watch.
Too much, perhaps. Too authentic; too revealing.
But it's never forced; never sentimental, and never reverts to pathos.
It's just real.
While listening to him, he raises an inner conflict: you don't know whether you want to give him a great big cuddle, or bludgeon his brains out to bring an end to the poor devil's suffering...
It's only music, right.
Captured at the glorious LSO ST Luke's in the East End of London, this was originally filmed and broadcast by the BBC in 2005, catching Antony & the Johnsons at the tail end of their first major UK tour after winning the Mercury Prize with the stunning I Am a Bird Now.
It's an excellent performance and works really well as a live audio recording.
Antony & the Johnsons - Live, London, 2005.
My Lady Story
For Today I am a Buoy
You Are My Sister
Fistful of Love
Hope There's Someone
I Fell In Love With a Dead Boy
Excellent Rip from DVD captured broadcast, BBC4, 2005, @320kbs
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