Edinburgh International Festival
17th August only
When writing reviews sometimes you need to get to the computer and share your experience, sometimes you need to go away and really, really mull it over. Anohni was several days ago and it has still deeply affected me. For this music concert was art in its purest form.
Antony and the Johnsons are no more, the lead vocalist he has now transitioned into Anohni (pronounce it like a toddler would say Antony). She has a bold new sound, a mix of electro and melancholy that only Bjork could come close to in comparison. The album is called Hopelessness and Anohni herself describes it as an electric album with some sharp teeth. Live there is no ‘some’ about it. These teeth are razors and they aren’t going to let you go.
It begins with waves of ambient sounds, projected on a screen is Naomi Campbell, silently dancing. It’s a striking image but it refuses to cut away. Making you sit and watch for what feels like forever, the silence becomes unbearable, the ambient waves get louder and the crowd are unsetttled. The atmosphere crackles, Anohni hasn’t even taken the stage yet. She’s making everyone know that this is going to be an intense and challenging evening.
When she does take to the stage she is covered head to toe in black, her face is covered with a mesh hood. She remains hidden the whole time, instead using a host of women projected behind her as visual stand-ins. The women are of varying ages, ethnicity and many are transitioning. She’s acting a mirror to the oppression of women, showing that the connection of sisterhood is global. It’s fascinating and powerful with some of the most visually striking imagery I’ve ever seen. A trans woman’s look at femininity and the power of womanhood.
The visuals merged with Anohni’s new sound just work beautifully. It’s ferocious and darker than sin, only in its final moments does it offer some hope. When artist Nola Taylor muses, ‘Everything is going upside down. Let’s make the world a better place for all of is to live.’