One of the radio hosts expressed his gratitude to the musician Antony for visiting this obscure island on his way to stardom. After the concert this week I have to agree with him; it’s nice to get a fresh breeze like Antony when you know that the other guests of Iceland’s concert summer include Michael Bolton and Joe Cocker. I had already decided that Antony was the most dramatic singer in the world judging from his album I Am a Bird Now. Not only do the lyrics revolve around the sensitive subject of his sex, but his voice is out of this world. I was very much looking forward to witnessing this voice coming from the pale face from the posters.
But freshness isn’t really the best word to describe the atmosphere at the concert. It was very crowded at Nasa, you could almost sense the ventilation system giving up just after the Icelandic band Hudson Wayne stopped playing their melancholy masterpieces. It is the first time I saw them playing live, but I found their performance some what minimalistic, very subtle and tender music though most of the lyrics got lost on their way across the dance floor. I believe it would make a great soundtrack to a morbid western – reminded me of local greats Tenderfoot (now called Without Gravity), but with less testosterone.
Antony got great responses when he magically appeared by the piano, (which he initially claimed was out-of-tune, but which he later granted was absolutely fine), and introduced himself. The piano was accompanied by guitar, bass, cello, violin and an accordion (a very emotional instrument indeed) and together the singer and the Johnsons, Antony’s band, performed a great show. Antony’s bluesy androgynous voice was powerful and he had as much control over it as a great jazz musician might over a trumpet. The audience was all ears though distracted by each other. Between those heartbreaking confessions and lyrics about emotional turmoil, the singer was telling jokes and making friendly gestures about Iceland and nature and such (always well-appreciated by the audience). As the night went on, the band began doing covers, including numbers by Lou Reed, Nico and Leonard Cohen, and Antony even improvised some music on the spot, including a song about the primitive yet sophisticated feelings of caveman named Pierre and a bearded cave woman, presumably named Antony. The audience responded well to the most famous songs like “My Lady Story” and “Hope There’s Someone” although I missed my own soulful favorite “Fistful of Love”.
The tenderness of the music didn’t belong in Nasa. I wished that the concert was held in a smaller venue or at least in a place with more chairs, oxygen and better acoustic potential than Nasa has to offer. Big acts require big budgets, but it was hard to focus on the music when you were risking the danger of stepping on Björk’s toes or getting your hair burned off by a travelling cigarette. Standing close to the stage I had a difficult time standing still when all I wanted was just to lean back, close my eyes and enjoy the music. All in all it was a uplifting experience – the performers were excellent, the music was moving it was just the location that was wrong.