Father John Misty @ Plug

Gig review: Father John Misty @ The Plug (Monday 26th October 2015)

Photo: Scott Hukin

Tall, bearded and with an air of superiority that borders on pretentious. That’s how I’d describe Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, and a good portion of the crowd at his sold out show at The Plug.

It’s been a whirlwind year for the former Fleet Foxes drummer. His second album, I Love You, Honeybear, has been one of the most talked about and critically lauded albums of the year – and with good reason. The sharp, dry wit that characterises the entire record and the contrastingly beautiful Americana is something that has struck a chord with a lot of people.

Add to that his endearing personality and ability to troll fans and artists alike, you have all the qualities for a modern cult hero of those disenfranchised with the current state of things.

Entering the stage to the lascivious sounds of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, the band break into the opening track from this year’s long-player before the man himself, dressed in all black, vaults to the stage to rapturous applause and kicks off the night when Josh Tillman came to our city and showed us how it’s done.

Playing the entirety of I Love You, Honeybear, each song is delivered perfectly, with Tillman’s brilliantly diverse voice carrying every track and zinger of a lyric with unhinged passion and annunciation, the latter factor being a strong benefit when cherry picking every razor-sharp line (‘I wanna take you in the kitchen, lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in’ and ‘It’s hard to believe that a good-hearted woman could have a body that’d make your daddy cry’ being a couple of favourites).

It’s no doubt when Tillman is put to the centre that the effect is most poignant. The stream-of-conscious lyrics from Holy Shit has the crowd in awe and the lull of I Went To The Store One Day, which is played in the encore after a brief and subdued Q&A with the Father, is pure ecstasy. However it’s Bored In The USA, his ‘sarcastic meta-ballad about despair’, that has the crowd at their most transfixed. With the one light highlighting the bearded troubadour and just a piano and a laughing track accompanying him, the Father takes us through the mundanity of American life. The track ends with him taking a phone from someone in the front row and singing directly into it before claiming, “This is how future generations will remember me”. Striking stuff.

The rapid increase of Father John Misty has been one of the stories of the year. The fact that he’s just announced an even bigger string of shows come 2016 shows even more have taken to receiving his blessings. And amen to that.

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