ANOHNI -HOPELESSNESS, THE PLAYHOUSE EDINBURGH
Anohni-The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Having already released one of the best albums of the year, Hopelessness, and what also must rate as one of the most cohesive and affecting protest albums of all time Anohni delivers a live show of unparalleled strength, beauty and inventiveness.
Drawing heavily on her New York performance art background and connections, the Hopelessness live outing brings new intrigues and intelligence to rock as theater and in the process creates a live show unlike any other.
Opening with a twenty minute film of Naomi Campbell- admittedly an incongruous choice to promote a performance which centres around the un-justness of the world; a spoilt supermodel who demands diamonds as payment and hits assistants with mobile phones- dancing in a cavernous bunker clad only in a bikini, heels and a hat which resembles the crown of the Statue of Liberty accompanied by a soundtrack which sounded like a crashing wave synthesised with white noise.
Obviously timed to test the audience’s patience, it was only during the last two minutes that a restless edginess set in and people started to talk amongst themselves, they were soon silenced as the instantly recognisable voice of Anohni broke through from out of the darkness and gave a stunning rendition of Hopelessness.
It wasn’t until the second number 4 Degrees that she made her way onto the stage and then all that could be seen was a series of black silhouettes clad in what resembled a burqa crossed with a beekeeper’s outfit.
Obviously never comfortable in the spotlight- her uneasiness was apparent when I saw her before in her previous incarnation of Antony- this is as much of Anohni as will be seen throughout this performance, instead a series of women on a huge screen at the back of the stage mouth the lyrics in perfect synchronicity. It is a highly effective way of getting the lyrics across and their faces bear the pain of the emotional content in the songs. Anohni herself makes only the briefest of appearances on the screen thus letting others present the lyrics for her.
When she does move across the stage it is minimal but highly effective; during the bleak attack of ‘Obama’ she strides back and forward like John Merrick, the Elephant Man, in the David Lynch film.
The music itself is faultlessly performed by Daniel Lopatin and Hudson Mohawke creating banks of sound from either side of the stage to great effect. None of her old repertoire or recordings are aired in this show and there is neither a cello or piano in sight or within earshot; this is a whole new phase of Anohni’s career and one she obviously wishes to stand on its own very impressive merits.
It is a totally innovative show crackling with inventiveness- it does adopt a theme and stick with it but it is an extremely effective theme-and modernity. Definitely one to beat as far as live music goes as it gives the whole genre a brand new context and perspective.