Majestic and magnetic

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Few musicians on the pop landscape are more polarizing than Antony Hegarty.

The angel-voiced Boy George disciple coos with infinite vibrato, unapologetically flaunting his voice across octaves like an operatic Nina Simone. From Hegarty's haunting siren to his penchant for cross-dressing to the Factory girls adorning his album covers, every aesthetic choice of his screams "High art!" in a way that can be very off-putting to certain listeners.

I used to be somewhat put off by it myself. But I've come to appreciate that Hegarty's uncompromising vision is what makes Antony and the Johnsons so engrossing. To listen to one of the band's albums is to step into Antony's world with only the pause button as an escape. To watch him perform, I imagine, is just as all-encompassing an experience.

Columbus fans will have the chance to see such a performance for the first time in seven years next Wednesday. Since a 2002 stop at the Wexner Center, Hegarty has ascended beyond a close circle of New York elites and into worldwide fame, primarily thanks to his Mercury Music Prize-winning 2005 release, I Am a Bird Now.

Hegarty and band arrive on the heels of their follow-up, the intimate, elegant The Crying Light. Despite orchestral accompaniment, it's his quietest, most minimal album yet, and his most intensely personal. Sounds like a recipe for a soul-bearing show at the Southern.

What: Antony and the Johnsons

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4

Where: Southern Theatre, Downtown