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Almost a year ago The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic was announced as part of the Manchester International Festival. A show by Robert Wilson about (and starring) performance artist Abramovic featuring songs by Antony and compositions by William BasinkiWillem Dafoe was cast as the narrator, as a member of The Wooster Group he is no stranger to the avant-garde, and he was in Animal Factory with Antony years ago. After they added Matmos to the orchestra pit this turned into my dream team of performance theater.

I flippantly asked Morgan if he would be up to making a trip surrounding this show, and was a bit flabbergasted that he said yes. So I got us tickets and that began the planning of our trip to northern England, this show was on the fourth day of our trip. Before the show we met up with a group of friends from JustOneStar for a couple of drinks. There was a lot of catching up and it was my first time meeting most of them face to face, it was a great time. LADOMA was being performed at The Lowry, a performance art space in the Salford Quays. The theater was on the smaller size and our seats were on the balcony slightly left of center. On the stage already were three women laying in death poses while a few dogs wandered about the stage. They stayed there motionless while people filled the theater and the lights went dark very slowly. The show is a biographical account of Abramovic’s life and performances, while not linear, the show had a storyline. A scene with Abramovic playing her mother punishing a young Marina leads into a live snapshot of a related performance she did. All the transitions were not so obvious, the scenes and pictures were slowly built and created with a subtlety and tension that never strained the beauty. Written by Robert Wilson there was little dialogue on stage, the narrator handled most of the storytelling. Still being alive didn’t stop Wilson from writing Abramovic’s death scene (pictured above). I didn’t take that picture, I found it on the interweb.

The vocals were a knife used to cut thought the sweeping tonal music scored by Basinski. Antony wrote all the songs used in the show except for one, Snowy AngelBaby Dee gets the credit there. Antony only sang a couple of the songs, and they were gorgeous. From where our seats were it was like he was singing directly to us.  Antony is able to get into you and make you feel, Morgan now understands that Antony is something special. I heard him tell someone he loved Antony in it! The other voice in the show was Svetlana Spajic, a Serbian folk singer. Her voice has an elegant shrillness that wrapped around Antony’s. Abramovic and Dafoe both sang one song each, both near the end of the show. They are not strong singers, they sang in a droll manner that worked to convey a fear of the imminent end.

The show was beyond impressive, every moment is completely thought out and executed perfectly. The show sporadically  touring for the next couple years, I would easily see it again.

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poor positive negativity, i’ve been ignoring you a bit. since the start of my new job description and the work blog that comes with it, i have been working a lot more. also i’ve been trying to eek out the last bit of summer fun with outside activities, t:ba events, movies and general socializing.

i’m well into the ‘c’s of my a-z project, today i listened to eight different versions of “crazy in love”. most by antony & the johnsons, some by beyonce. they are both equally great and i could have listened to many more versions easily.

beyonce

antony & the johnsons.

on june 21st antony played a concert in amsterdam with the metropole orkest. not only was it filmed for dutch television broadcast (although four songs were cut), but it was also recorded for a radio broadcast (full set list and all the talking). thanks to the internet i have been obsessed with this concert. there is a beautiful version of the unreleased “christina’s farm”, a haunting cover of “crazy in love”, and a killer version of “ghost” (another unreleased song). “ghost” floored me when antony performed it a couple of years ago at the brooklyn academy of music. the highlight of the show is that he premiered a new song “salt, silver and oxygen”.  morgan is probably beyond tired of hearing this concert, i don’t think a day has gone by in the past month that i haven’t listened to it. a friend sent me a dvd of the show also, but i will save morgan and only watch it when he’s not home.

my friend birdantony is hosting downloads on his site. be sure to thank him in the comments.
go here for the audio.
go here for the video. (ignore the audio on that page, it’s not the complete show.)

“ghost”

“salt, silver and oxygen”

“crazy in love”

on saturday i drove up to seattle for the antony & the johnsons show. i went with a murder of lesbians; audrey, rebecca and erin. we met up before the show at the whisky bar across the street from the moore. there we met the nicest kebab guy you’ll ever meet and took a small batch bourbon flight. it would have been a great experience if i had any idea which bourbon was which. the bartender just handed me four glasses, said “that’s a good tray of bourbon”, and turned to the next patron.

johanna constantine opened with two short dance pieces, johanna is a long time friend of antony’s.  i was hoping that she would amaze me, but it wasn’t her night.  johanna seemed crowded on the stage with all the instruments, i think she would have done better on a blank stage. the lighting could have helped by darkening the back of the stage, so you couldn’t see all the instruments. i found it hard to focus on her. i would love to see one of her shows. i imagine her on a black stage with a single light would be striking. also a live soundtrack, or perhaps vinyl played live.

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the show was great, not my favorite antony performance, but still a capital evening. i blame the venue and not antony for it not being perfect. antony & the johnsons seemed in high spirits and pretty relaxed for being on tour, i wondered if they picked up some pot up in vancouver the night before. antony’s voice was fantastic and of course the crowd loved him. antony stayed behind the piano all night, and  the johnson’s all played brilliantly and looked very dapper. all of antony & the johnson’s songs now mean so much more to me since my mother’s passing, especially the songs off the crying light. it was all i listened to in december and january, i can argue that all the song were really written about me, my mother, and the tenuous relationships i have with my family.  i was excited to hear “her eyes are  underneath the ground”, which really isn’t as morbid of a song as the title suggests , and “aeon” the most. both songs were amazing, “her eyes” was subtle beauty and “aeon” was wonderfully soulful. “shake that devil” turned out to be quite the roof raiser live.  another  a big surprise for me was how much i liked the live version of “the crying light”. on the album this song, while beautiful, comes off a little whiny. the live rendition was different, with hints of desperation and longing. the set was centered around the new album, we got a treat when he played “i was young when i left home”. this is a traditional song that bob dylan used to sing, antony recorded a version available on the dark was the night compilation. he said he just wanted to give it a try. he sang with only rob moose playing guitar, and it was remarkable. once again, he performed his cover of beyonce’s “crazy in love”. i love this cover, and this was my first time seeing it non-orchestral. the arrangement was more drum heavy, and antony snapped his fingers. afterward someone in the audience yelled “fuck beyonce” and he quipped “why would you say that”…”beyonce is sacred”.  like all antony & the johnsons shows, it went by too quick.

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the reason for this not being a perfect show, comes from where we were sitting. we had great seats just not acoustically perfect. i don’t really think that is was a sound man issue, the acoustics were against us. antony was often drowned out by the instruments. so i couldn’t fully connect to the performance as i have in the past.

the 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 the devil
crazy in love
you are my sister
fistful of love
i was young when i left home
twilight
aeon
cripple and the starfish
hope there’s someone

sorry, another antony & the johnsons post.

they are currently on a u.s. tour, i’m seeing them next week in seattle. antony live shows are something that needs to be wittnessed to understood. the moment he starts singing no one breaths or makes a sound, it can be intense. but sometimes if the crowd is lucky, antony breaks into a story, and you find out that antony is a pretty amusing storyteller. here is antony telling the story of an ex-boyfriend and the ideas behind “cripple and the starfish”, from a show in toronto last week.

part one.

part two.

sc194

this is the new antony & the johnsons album called the crying light. most of you will know that i already love this album. and this will be an album permanently connected with my mom. the album leaked shortly after i got to connecticut, and it became the soundtrack for the rest of my visit. the first song on the album, “her eyes are underneath the ground”, is coincidentally about the relationship between mother and son. this album now brings me to tears, in a most beautiful way. in my mind this album is a tribute to my mom.

since my judgment of this album is extremely clouded i’m going to point you to these beautifully written reviews.
pitchfork’s
tiny mix tape’s

here’s her “eyes are underneath the ground” being performed in london on antony’s recent orchestral tour.

this is the gorgeous video for the single
‘epilepsy is dancing”.