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Antony and the Johnsons Pack the BAM

Antony and the Johnsons joined forces with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra to hypnotize a full house at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Friday night, in a rare live performance by the androgynous vocalist. With the help of a 21-piece orchestra and a supremely dramatic lighting director, Antony and the Johnsons delivered an emotionally packed set with new songs and old favorites. While his trademark warbling sound remained exotic and extraordinary, even against the backdrop of a deeper accompaniment, Antony appeared nervous. As he frantically shifted his weight from one foot to another, twitching maniacally throughout the entire performance, Antony somehow managed to keep his unique tone unbothered, especially on classics such as “For Today I Am A Boy” and “River of Sorrow.” Antony, who arranged the orchestra set himself, provided the highlight in the form of comic relief, too. Just as the audience was about to crack under the weight and sobriety of the performance, Antony launched into an earnest rendition of Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love.” Though it received a deserved laugh from the crowd, “Crazy In Love” gave Antony an opportunity to flex his musical guns for the audience by transforming the piece from a predictable and annoying super-hip-pop to a complex and sincere soul song. DAVEY BARON / PHOTOS BY DAVE GUSTAV

>> Listen to Antony and the Johnsons on Napster

We asked: “What other artists would you most like to see with a philharmonic orchestra?”