There is a startling intensity about Josh Tillman. That much was clear in his four year tenure as drummer with Fleet Foxes and the circumstances in which he left the band when they were at the height of their powers and fame. This depth of energy and emotion is again apparent in his work as Father John Misty, an apparently meaningless alias he adopted in the aftermath of his shock departure from Fleet Foxes in January 2012.
Under that persona, Tillman has released two full-length studio albums both of which are characterised by their staggering accounts of self-indulgence, self-absorption and self-doubt, all cut through with a raw emotional honesty that can be just as uncomfortable as it is refreshing. As the title of his 2012 release Fear Fun suggests, it catches Tillman – or is it Father John Misty, or even both, because the lines between the two are constantly blurred – at a crossroads in both his life and career.
It’s follow-up, last month’s I Love You, Honeybear, is inspired by Tillman’s recent marriage yet despite the security and stability this union undoubtedly affords him it is a record that is riven with uncertainty and one that ultimately demystifies many of the more saccharine notions of love. But for all of their innate human frailty, staggering personal revelations and wry observations on life, both records’ unqualified success – I Love You, Honeybear is already rightly being touted as one of the albums of the year – ultimately lies in their shared grasp of how best to craft a beautiful melody.
This evening we get nine songs from I Love You, Honeybear and half a dozen from Fear Fun, the incredible potency of their studio recordings magnified in the live setting by the sheer enormity and force of Josh Tillman’s personality. Flanked by a magnificent six piece band – David Vandervelde and Dixie Darley on guitars, Kyle Flynn on keys, violinist Paul Cartwright and a stellar rhythm section of Eli Thompson and Dan Bailey on their respective bass and drums – Tillman likens tonight to that kind of first date when you just can’t shut up about yourself. He has got some emotions to share, and share them he does.
The title track of ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ is a torrent of high emotion as Tillman assumes the collective mantle of James Brown, Brett Anderson and a flamboyant nightclub crooner. He is a constant blur of movement, theatricality and largesse. ‘Strange Encounter’, ‘Only Son Of The Ladies Man’ and a truly astonishing ‘When You’re Smiling and Astride Me’ follow. These first four songs are as fantastic as anything you are ever likely to see and hear when experiencing live music.
It would be nigh on impossible to maintain that unrelenting level of energy, passion and emotion for an entire show and whilst Tillman’s foot does subsequently come off the gas there are still many more sublime, unforgettable moments to enjoy. David Vandervelde’s steel guitar adds an even greater poignancy to ‘Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddam Thirsty Crow’ and the concluding song ‘Holy Shit’ just builds and builds to its fevered, eddying zenith before Tillman and the band return for a two song encore, the first of which ‘Bored in the USA’ sees him knee-deep in the crowd posing for selfies.
Father John Misty signs off fittingly with ‘Every Man Needs a Companion’. “Couldn’t give me a myth, so I had to write my own……I never liked the name Joshua, got tired of J” he sings. Whether it be fact or fiction, no matter who you are you are unlikely to be able to invent something that is as believably good as this.
Some more photos from this show can be found here
via Simon Godley God Is In The TV http://ift.tt/1JYVYBB