Father John Misty – Live at Variety Playhouse

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I tend to go to concerts where either people in my age group have heard of the artist or no one I know has… and I do occasionally go to shows that should be popular with people two or more decades older than me.  It’s all part of the search, if not for the “lost chord” suggested by the Moody Blues, then for something new that fills a musical gap that I didn’t know existed.

Father John Misty goes to show that I don’t talk to enough younger people to see what’s “hip.”  At Variety Playhouse, this show was sold out months in advance, and I’m just as comfortable being the one of the oldest at a show as I am in being one of the youngest.

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I’ve seen Father John Misty before, not by that name, but as Josh Tillman, drummer for an excellent band named Fleet Foxes, which is currently and possibly forever on hiatus.  That band was built on harmonies, and Tillman was a significant contributor to their sound in that regard.  At some point during their last tour, he called it quits and has since released a couple of solo CD’s under this assumed name.

So, what do you get when you free a drummer from his kit and put him at the front of the stage?

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This show that the answer is clearly not a wallflower.   The show started off visibly dramatic, as above, then continued on with a similar style and posing of Nick Cave, who isn’t a bad comparison. 

 

While Cave’s style suggests a feeling of an ungodly claiming of souls, Father John Misty preaches, in a sense, a great affirmation of love, usually paired with inadequacies, mistakes, and other human perfections that suggest that the reality is (far) less than the ideal.  Whether those are his or projected from a creative place doesn’t really matter but likely aren’t dissimilar.  The good part is that he’s often very humorous and clever about it, rarely without the unexpected in the telling.

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Though he has eight releases under his given name, this concert was all Father John MIsty, featuring nine of the 12 songs from 2012’s Fear Fun and all ten from his 2015 release, I Love You, Honeybear.

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The concert was very appreciative, with many packing the floor area in front of the stage.  The band was sharp, as they should be as the setlist appears to be the same from night to night.  Variety’s sound wasn’t as good as it could be, but his vocals were clear  enough if one paid attention to it. 

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What was entertaining was the concert “experience,” observing how Tillman chose to express his songs.  Aside from his very active stage presence, the best moments were whenever he sang variations of “Oh Oh Oh,” a phrase/sound which he returns to in most of his songs to great effect.

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Oh, and I’m certain the “No Photography” meant no flash photography, a notion shared by many with smart phones.  Past experience probably led to the “No” part being turned off during the encore, which was a classy thing.

4 of 5 STARS_thumb

 

 

Setlist:

I Love You, Honeybear
Strange Encounter
True Affection
Only Son of the Ladiesman
When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
The Night Josh Tillman Came to our Apartment
I’m Writing a Novel
Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
Nancy From Now On
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
This is Sally Hatchet
The Ideal Husband
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
Funtimes in Babylon
Now I’m Learning to Love the War
Holy Shit

Encore:

Bored in the USA
I’m Your Man (Leonard Cohen cover)
Everyman Needs A Companion

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