Father John Misty (real name Josh Tillman) played a sold-out gig at Plug for the good people of Sheffield, and provided a truly spellbinding show packed with folky fun and a plentiful of banter.
Proceedings kick off with support act Anna B Savage. Watching her is like witnessing a musical purge fuelled by angst and aggression. She either vacantly stares at us with a twisted gurn or mopes about. She ungratefully lobs her water bottle, teasing those of us at the front that are gasping in the incinerator of a venue. It must be difficult as a solo act to open for a band, but when her set finishes she just puts her guitar down and walks off in a hump, no thank you or recognition of the poor people that had to endure her misery for forty minutes. Classic Anna.
Father John Misty’s Spotify playlist (it’s Father John Misty’s Royalty-Free Terrestrial Juicebox, in case you were wondering) sets the tone during the interval, and I know it’s going to be a great gig because the guy in front of me asks if I want to switch places with him because he’s taller than I am and he doesn’t want to be that tall dude at the front that blocks the view and pisses everyone off. How rare is that? I can see the Father pacing the hallway through a window in the door leading backstage. He’s tall, beardy and handsome, dressed in a suave black suit with his shirt unbuttoned to a deep v. He and his band open with I Love You, Honeybear, to which he slow dances with the mic stand and writhes around spontaneously. He occasionally does a Kanye and sprawls out on the floor, because he can, and because we’re all too infatuated to find it weird.
It’s a theatrical performance from start to finish, full of sensual hip sways and preacher-like gesticulations with his hands. He loves an articulate tangent; FJM is incredibly intelligent, that’s evident in the complexity of his lyrics that add some spark to the mundanity of everyday life, and every time he addresses the audience it feels like a lesson in effortless eloquence. During Bored in the USA, his “sarcastic meta-balad about despair”, he grabs a phone from someone stood at the barriers and films himself, slowly moving the camera closer and closer to his face. He says he wants this to be how future generations remember him. I’m tempted to rugby tackle the phone’s owner and treasure this precious documentation forever.
The Father comes back out for an intimate encore, in which he thanks the audience for being so pleasant and allowing him to gather his thoughts in between songs rather than yelling incoherent ramblings at him like other audiences do. He opens this time up for questions and comments (phenomenal banter) and an excited fellow father to the back shouts “How did you get so cool?!” The Father assures us he learnt how to be cool from a seven disc DVD collection he bought for $49.95 called “Operation Annihilate Pussy”. We laugh, he laughs, and everyone’s in a merry mood.
Post-gig, I overhear a man describe Father John as “somewhere between Morrison and Morrisey”, and I’m inclined to agree. I love Father John Misty, and after a mesmerising hour and a half with him I think he loves me too.