Father John Misty in Auckland, New Zealand


Once known as the drummer for Indie darlings Fleet Foxes, Joshua Tillman has come into his own under the name Father John Misty.

He has gained a devoted following courtesy of two critically acclaimed albums- 2012’s Fear Fun and his sophomore effort I Love You Honeybear was released earlier this year. The latter is, in this reviewer’s opinion, one of the best albums of 2015 so it was with much excitement that I attended Father John Misty’s show at the St James on Thursday night.

Casually strolling across the stage in a beautifully cut suit and artfully unbuttoned shirt, Father John Misty grabbed the microphone and dropped to his knees before launching into the title track of I Love You Honeybear.

Dancing like Mick Jagger at a burlesque show, Father John Misty deftly captured the audience’s attention with enough charisma to rival any pastor throughout his hour and a half long set. Along with his band, he led them through an eclectic set list of crowd pleasers that showcased Misty’s musical diversity. His “sarcastic ballad about despair” Bored in the USA was played alongside Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, which was delivered with an apocalyptically defiant swagger. Holy Shit was another standout, simply for having the most acerbically observant lyrics of what it is to exist in 2015.

But regardless of tempo, both the musicianship and the vaulted ceilings provided a glorious backdrop, and the musicianship demonstrates how beautifully crafted these songs are.

Father John Misty’s lyrics brim with satirical comment- the moniker could be seen as the mouth piece for the modern man. It was great to see that seep into his onstage banter as well. But look beyond the biting humour and there are deep truths to be found within his music. As human beings, we are fraught with dichotomies, and Father John Misty’s music recognises this with a sincerity that is unsettlingly freeing and took his live show to transcendental heights.

This article was first published in Rip It Up magazine, December 2nd 2015.


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