It’s been at least two years since the last time I saw a concert and wasn’t in the front row. Most of the time, the acts I’m seeing are energetic as fuck, and I often leave wondering if I would have experienced the show better from within the crowd, moshing and flailing amongst the unwashed masses. This concert was most certainly not one of those cases. I was lucky enough to experience Antony Hegarty’s trademark warbling baritone from a front row seat at the Vogue, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Following a disturbing performance-art opener involving an androgynous wraith-like figure and Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, Antony’s entrance was downright regal—accompanied by rapturous applause and dignified cheers, it was as though he was a philharmonic conductor taking the stage. The grand piano stretched seven feet towards a guitarist, violinist, cellist and saxophonist, and a drummer and bassist rounded out the rest of the band. Opening on “Where Is My Power?” to find his footing, Antony proceeded to blow us all away with a heartfelt and evocative rendition of “Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground”. Toting around a lavender hobo bag, Antony reminded me of the loving but crazy aunt I never had, saying things like “I’m developing a sweetheart relationship with Vancouver,” and calling us all his “cute, pretty babies”.
As though his immediate warmth and rapport with his audience wasn’t surprise enough, halfway through his set, Antony began to play some oddly familiar notes. Chuckles emanated from the audience as people started to catch on, followed by full-blown cheering: Antony was playing his own unique version of Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love.” A hop, skip and a very intelligently worded rant about the environment later, Antony ended on “Hope There’s Someone” for his encore, and in spite of all his jokes and eccentricities, the delicate piano arrangement and chorus of strings carried his epic tale of love and abandonment into modern-classic territory. With a voice completely sui generis and a personality to match, Antony Hegarty is an alternative virtuoso for this generation.