Star rating - 10/10
I have been waiting for a gig in 2012 to blow me away - one of those unexpected gems that knock you off your feet. So far - and I've got to say it's been slightly below par. Then along comes Joshua Tillman aka Father John Misty who promised 'real shit from my heart to yours' - and boy did he and his brilliant five piece band deliver. In truth they are more rock and roll, with a dash of Nashville, than folk balladeers - which may come as something of a surprise given his previous Fleet Foxes pedigree. But it was a very pleasant surprise indeed.
They played lots of great tracks from his Fear Fun album, which, like the opening number Fun Times in Babylon, really seem to be inspired by his new home in Los Angeles. And good though they sound on record, they sounded absolutely glorious live, filled out into something extremely special with the beautiful sound of his band, and his substantial live presence.
Tillman is a gregarious diva with all the moves and fabulous slinky hips. He is handsome, charming, and witty with a very musically talented band. He is not afraid to send himself up, or use his falsetto voice, as in Nancy From Now On. Particular highlights from the set were the country inspired Tee Pees 1-12; and the sweeping Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings.
But in truth I find it hard to pick out favourites. From start to finish the music was intoxicating and the lyrics paint a vivid picture, with dark undertones, reminiscence of Steinbeck or Hemingway. FJM has a great rapport with his audience. He claimed to be 'shooting for adorably cantankerous but think I just end up at prick'. I have to disagree, and what's more, I think he knows exactly what he is doing. He is a totally entertaining rebel and a true performer. He even stopped a number to break up a minor scuffle in the audience, and resumed when he had suitably admonished the participants.
With his lavish sweeping tunes and rich lyrics, it's difficult to assess how much is a performance and how much he is gloriously bonkers - but in truth it doesn't matter. Look out, maybe not Hollywood, but certainly music world - here comes Father John Misty. He is hot - you have been told!