Live: Father John Misty @ O2 Academy, Glasgow, 12/05/16

Charismatic folk-rocker Father John Misty put on a show of biblical proportion in Glasgow

THE eccentric American singer-songwriter was on top form as he morphed from Josh Tillman into his persona, moniker, and perhaps even alter-ego, Father John Misty.

The father’s eclectic music taste was on display through support act Khruangbin. The American Thai-funk trio, fronted by Laura Lee (bass) and Mark Speer (guitar) with Donald Johnson on drums, warmed up the healthy Glasgow crowd with their blend of deliciously smooth and spacious, largely instrumental, soul jams. Songs from their debut album The Universe Smiles Upon You featured, including ‘Mr. White’ and ‘Two Fish and an Elephant’.

Khruangbin were vibing on a different level.

The lights fell as Father John Misty and his band strode out resplendently to meet their adoring audience, all luscious flowing locks and opened button shirts, with a mixture of folk staples and electronic rarities on hand to conduct his sermon.

Tillman’s set, which featured an equal split of Fear Fun (2012) and I Love You, Honeybear (2015), began with a track from the former, – ‘Everyone Needs A Companion’. After only a few more songs the crowd began to understand exactly what a Father John Misty concert was all about. Powerful, raw vocals and instrumentation; a thunderous light show; and of course bucketloads of irony and sarcasm.

Not satisfied with simply being a musician: FJM is a performer reflecting his art form through many mediums, namely comedy and melodrama. He straddles the fence between clichéd self-absorbed rockstar and effeminate nu-male, but really Tillman is neither. The father is simply, for want of a better phrase, taking the piss.

He dramatically flails his arms and flops to the floor during ‘When You’re Smiling and Astride Me’ and ‘Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)’ perusing the crowd for people to lock eyes with. He kicks and bawls like a braggadocios rockstar, all knee slides, fist pumps, and mic throws, during bigger anthems like ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ and ‘True Affection’.

“The most beautiful song about going down I’ve ever heard.”

– Father John Misty on Rihanna’s ‘Kiss It Better’.

The lights match Tillman’s alter ego, portraying himself as a kind of cosmic messiah, with bright flashing lights stunning the curtained backdrop. Other moods set include warm orange hues reminiscent of free-spirited ’70s West coast America, and techno flashes and strobes that wouldn’t look out of place in an underground Berlin rave.

Misty doesn’t talk much during his set, relying on his actions and tongue-in-cheek quips to speak for him. Which they do. We see the true Tillman later in the set as he begins to thank the audience for coming out. However, he remains devilishly funny during the rip-roaringly clever ‘Bored In the USA’ and disgustingly affected ‘I Love You, Honeybear’.

Father John Misty locked eyes with members of the audience as he performed.
Father John Misty locked eyes with members of the audience as he performed.

The encore again shows us FJM’s humorous side as he covers Rihanna’s ‘Kiss It Better’ commenting that it is “the most beautiful song about going down I’ve ever heard”.

That sums Father John Misty up really, he may not take himself seriously, but his art is a very different matter. Everything is measured, rehearsed thoroughly, and devilishly clever without seeming overly contrived. As FJM, Tillman is a natural and a classic case of an introvert performing as an extrovert.

Go see this man live and I promise you, you will not be bored with the FJM.

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