Live Review: Father John Misty – Albert Hall, Manchester

FJM Live

Father John Misty’s a right character eh! Or, wait…is he a character? Or is just Josh Tillman using a different name? Or is it a character of a character!? Either way, it’s probably best not to ask him, especially if you’re Stuart Maconie and Mark Radcliffe, who felt the full force of Misty/Tillman on Friday afternoon, live on BBC 6 Music. To be fair, their questions were pretty mundane and clearly Misty has faced these a hundred times, but does that warrant his shitty replies and awkward silences? We don’t think so. Discourteous? – definitely. Tongue in cheek? – possibly. Genuine? – we’ll get back to you. Nevertheless, what we can be certain of, is his talent on the stage.

Performing tracks from his two solo efforts, 2012’s Fear Fun and last year’s accolade-grabbing I Love You, Honeybear, Tillman’s delivery is sumptuous; be it with his acoustic strapped to him for the exceptional Only Son Of A Ladiesman or dropping to his knees in the typical style that he has become known for, during the theatrical When You’re Smiling And Astride Me, the Elton John-sounding Holy Shit or the frenzied set-closer The Ideal Husband. 

The crowd lap up anything this guy does, and whether it’s an alter ego or not, Misty doesn’t half take on the roll of Deep South preacher, blessed with the vocals of a country-esque Nick Cave and the magnetism of a possessed James Brown. But what really stands out throughout his music, is his blend of honesty, sensuality and wit. This is where Tillman and Misty become one, recounting tales of love and lust-filled nights with wife Emma Tillman in Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins), and shrugging off the global market crash, because he’s so oblivious in love during I Love You, Honeybear. Moreover, the biggest singalong comes when the lights focus on just the main man, for Bored In The USA. His lyrical ability is possibly at its finest here, as he mocks the privileged and ignorant American white man with deadly candour that is both gloriously droll and overwhelmingly tragic. It is alternative, sarcastic stand-up at its best, but packs a knockout punch the more you take it in – now more than ever.

Misty lets the music and lyrics do most of the talking tonight, though inevitably there are a couple of words aimed at his ‘interesting experience with two Dads’ earlier on, referring to his encounter with RadMac (who we must say, are still two of our favourite radio hosts going). He does however continue to thank the crowd for their support, before heading into ‘his favourite song of the moment’ – a cover of Rihanna’s current pop-belter, Kiss It Better. It’s a little karaoke-esque, but pretty fitting for a Friday night on the town. The lights are then set to maximum-strobe for a gut-wrenching, thunderous finisher with The Ideal Husband, before Misty jumps into the crowd, grabs hands and kisses heads like the preacher-man he is…or at least pretends to be…

Dom Kay