Those dismayed by the UK’s ongoing political upheaval could leave Anohni’s first performance here reminded that there are plenty more things to be miserable about. The transgender singer, who won the Mercury Prize as Antony and the Johnsons, has reinvented herself as an electronic artist with new songs tackling everything from climate change to government surveillance.
Her performance was more video art installation than a concert. Twenty minutes of Naomi Campbell slowly gyrating was a tedious opening, but the the real show was mesmerising. A veiled Anohni sang in the shadows beneath a giant screen showing an array of faces mouthing the words. Several were weeping. One was covered in blood.
Not an inch of the singer was visible under a hooded white robe and long gloves, but she moved with ironic joy. She shimmied and waving her hands above her head during Execution, the prettiest tune and a grim celebration of the death penalty (“It’s an American dream”).
Admittedly, much of the music was irresistable. Her joint collaborators, experimental producers Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, stabbed at laptops, generating fidgety electronica with a cathedral-like feeling of space and air. Given their subject matters, there was a guilty euphoria to the celebratory melodies of Why Did You Separate Me From the Earth and Drone Bomb Me. The singer, more commonly backed by piano, still sounded extraordinary in this new context. There can be no more wondrous voice to sing us to our doom.