Father John Misty, London Hammersmith – Live Review

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A staple at Glastonbury over the last few years, Father John Misty’s UK tour proved sound evidence of his prominence. He added two more London Hammersmith shows to his schedule, finishing off on the south coast in Brighton. 

Father John Misty

After the release of his third album ‘Pure Comedy’, Father John Misty, aka Josh Tilman, has proved to be a highly astute frontman, singer and songwriter, fundamentally possessing every idiosyncrasy one would need to perform live with the quality that Tilman does. His drumming for the Fleet Foxes seems a lifetime away now. 

Impressively performing for more than two hours, Tilman ran through hits from all three albums: ‘Fear Fun’, ‘I love you Honey Bear’ and ‘Pure Comedy’. 

Naturally, his eloquent approach to storytelling is poetic and folk like, and occasionally very rock n roll, which is what his fans expect to see, however, it is the performance of Tilman himself that is most striking and memorable. 

Nonchalantly cool, he arrives on stage in boots, a snazzy shirt, jacket and long hair. He is funny and warm, yet at the same time has the ability to run around stage swinging the microphone like Axl Rose and sliding on his knees like a 70s rock hero.

Tilman has the ability to talk to the crowd at ease, sharing stories and joking around in a seemingly unrehearsed way. At times he used his own narcissism as the brunt of the jokes, as he showcased a music video behind ‘A night Josh Tilman came to our Apt’ that portrayed him meeting himself, taking drugs with himself, and finally sleeping with himself, which was brilliantly received by the Hammersmith crowd. 

It was no surprise the show was so good though. With a 20+ musical ensemble that was made up of a 6 piece orchestra complete with conductor, 4 guitarists, a drummer, a pianist, one on keyboard and a few backup singers. It was undoubtedly going to be musically exquisite.

Throughout the entire 24 song set, he was in pure control. Starting with ‘Pure Comedy’ and ‘Total Entertainment Forever’, he blew the confetti cannons after ‘Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution’. Despite restarting ‘Fun Times in Babylon’ due to something happening in the front row, Tilman and his ensemble were crystal clear and simply faultless. 

Finishing with arguably his rockiest track, ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sing’, before a four-song encore, he stripped the music right back to folk level, allowing the entire venue to witness the full range of his voice before letting everyone on stage rock out in the middle of ‘Holy S***’. It was no surprise he saved ‘The Ideal Husband’.

With such an array of instruments and talent on stage, it would’ve been shocking had this show gone down in any other way.