Since I saw Steps on their farewell tour, there have been very few bands that have rendered me raspy from screaming their words back to them from the crowd. Josh Tillman a.k.a Father John Misty is one of those select few.
In a sold out Brudenell, he swaggered on stage in a full suit to an unwaveringly adoring crowd. Backed by a band of four, the show felt meatier than the acoustic sets we are used to seeing on YouTube. This was a gig that could really be called a show. Though there was no fancy back-drop, elaborate costume, or even innovative light display, there was something rather speak-easy about the set.
The source of my hoarse voice in the following days was Tillman’s uncompromised lyrical genius. The whole crowd shared the pleasure of giggling at, and belting out, the lyrics along with him. Mixing both old and new, the set was a perfect harmony of vamped up favourites and new gems from I Love You, Honeybear. Then came the moment when he entered the crowd, sarcastically asking “so who wants a selfie then?” He had several audience members, including myself, nestled into his dapper suit, smiling and singing ‘Bored in the USA’ as he went. As always, Tillman’s theatricality and dry wit was married perfectly with the beautiful irony and comedy of his songs, the between-song dialogue being as poetic and laugh-inducing as the lyrics themselves. The tender start to the set with ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ was brought back at the end in cyclical resolve with his beautiful and unforgettable ‘Every Man Needs a Companion’.
A delight to behold and a hand-shaking crowd-hug encounter made the gig one of the best I’ve attended in a long time. There’s one thing Tillman can be counted on for, and that’s mystifying his audience.