Bird from Shawshank couldn’t escape, the warden’s jack boot still on his forehead days after he left his cell. Mind too, becomes institutionalised when ears grow accustomed to musical progression, anticipating next notes, chord sequences or words. It brings a certain happiness, makes us feel part of the performance or allows an imagined relationship with the artist. It works in an easy listening contented mainstream where there is collusion, feeding us MOR and dampening expectations of anything out of the ordinary, indeed it works towards crushing anything on the fringe. So when notes don’t go where our ears expect, the Simon Cowell within gets ready to rant and point and laugh unless, well unless what we hear presents a challenge. Antony did this last Sunday evening at Vicar Street with her shadows and light, her mysticism and spirituality, her warmth of personality and her professionalism, but mostly with her voice. She took us to a shaded place, sat with us on a warm carefree summer’s afternoon pointing at butterflies.
I heard a man say recently at the saddest of funerals that, sometimes we just don’t get stuff, where clumsy words can’t find a context, can’t explain. So too it was with this gal. Superlative is exposed as a useless imposter, a transparent fabrication. Antony sits neither above nor below excellence; she’s not concerned with measures or performance.
If voice is a 19th century wooden ship, Antony is the clipper Cutty Sark sailing home alone across the Indian Ocean bringing tropical flowers, spices and hummingbirds to a gray cold raining place . If voice has colour, then hers is a blended gold, soaked in radiance. The listener struggles with limits on what he hears, but her voice knows none. She sits behind a grand piano, her bells and xylophone near at hand. She toys with her long black hair in that affected teenage way, telling rambling stories between songs about why, but its’ not about why, she just is, and when the music doesn’t progress as expected, it goes to a place, an unheard of place and opens up a new perspective.
As for the exquisite Johnsons, there’s a queue for the affections of Max, the excellent Bob lookalike, violin player and guitarist. His Richard Gere-like viola colleague shared vocals and chants. Oh Lord that every singer should have such grace, harmony and style in support. A sweet cellist resonating coyly at stage side, subtle drums and base, both complimentary, a virtuoso sax, clarinet and electric guitarist all in one gray suited package. There were six excellents.
You’ll hear nothing bad about Antony here or from my three fiends, all loved up on that latest of May afternoons, free to experience again.
Don’t believe me. Devin said she was “Destroyed”
Bird could have taken a leaf from Andy’s book.