One possible experience of listening; impressions and emotions in fragments:
I am sitting in the dark and at first this is perceived as waiting, not experiencing. The whole concert hall is dark and anticipating. (It is important to note that this anticipation does not leave me throughout the concert and the feeling one has when anticipating–senses heightened–made me feel incredibly vulnerable.)
Then, the voice.
At once fragile and trembly, it is ultimately salvation/redemption/forgiveness in its strength. Undeniably moving, inexpressibly sorrowful and touching. How is it that this person can create what feels like an actual space with his voice? Almost like an architect, he carves out a sound space that creates a mimesis of his experience within it. When I hear his voice fill the room, it is as though it was a living, separate thing. His Voice. It has the ability to resist a normative way of knowing as the experience of doing. I believe that I usually know something by doing it. When Antony sings, I suddenly feel things without having experienced them. Witnessing this performative narration becomes a way to know him. It’s a very intimate sensation.
As the voice continues, so does the dark. The first song. The second song. Wondering if the whole concert will be experienced as if we are in a chrysalis of sound, cocooned in a darkness that lends itself to making one feel like his sound is as vast as the night sky that you are blanketed by. And that it’s something that comes from what it as unquantifiable and unexplainable as the night sky. There doesn’t seem to be an origin (where does this music come from?)…his sound is so singular which makes it irresistibly and undeniably important to many. “He has expressed how I feel about being a woman better than I have myself and created an unnerving, unworldly yet direct impression of our fear of death and life’s solitude” says Beth Gibbons.
Thought about this, which Haruki Murakami wrote about discovering–and learning to understand–Billie Holiday’s later, more raw and “pathetic” songs:
It hit me recently that the answer may somehow involve the idea of “forgiveness.” As I listen to Billie Holiday’s later songs, I can feel her reaching out to embrace the hearts of the many people I have hurt in the course of my life and my writing, those who have suffered for my many mistakes, and drawing them to her. It’s alright, she sings to me. Let it go. This has nothing to do with “healing”–I am not being healed in any way. It is forgiveness, pure and simple.
When I first read this, it struck me. When I thought about it during the concert, as the lights started to shed layer by layer unto the face of the stage and audience, it filled me. (Note on lights as they slowly came on: It felt like the night was undressing itself, letting the light reveal more and more, and in turn revealing us to ourselves, to him.) I think one of the purest forms of beauty can found in forgiveness, which has a lot to do with love. I think that those things, coming from Antony, are palpable. So palpable, that it was difficult for me to contain or constrain my own emotions, and at times I found myself in a near euphoric and/or catastrophic state of tears. Really, it’s quite a rare and beautiful place to be.
Also, like his voice is trembly and big, so is his stature and gestures. When the lights eventually started showing itself, it was lovely to see this person standing there, singing and moving. It made me realize: the Voice isn’t a Voice. It’s a voice that belongs to a man.
–Patricia