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Father John Misty

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill – 26th June, 2015

Written By Hannah Collisson

  • Photograph by Emma Tillman

Opening with a crowd-pleaser in the form of the title track of his latest album, “I Love You, Honeybear”, Father John Misty set the tone for the evening.

Music that skipped across genres from alt rock to Americana and country between and within songs, and a band fronted by a man with a truly unconstrained ego (whether in character or not, is a point that is up for debate).

A multi-textured sound which verged on the orchestral, it was lifted even further with the addition of soft backing vocals providing a beautiful blanket of sound.

Each song is an epic piece, and even the titles are epic, such as “When You’re Smiling And Astride Me” and “Nothing Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow”.

The man behind Father John Misty is American folk singer-songwriter, guitarist, and drummer Joshua Tillman, a former member of indie bands including Fleet Foxes and Saxon Shore, and a consummate performer, if not preacher.

There was often a disconnect between the reassuring, wistful or uplifting tones of the instrumentalists, and the lyrics, which went from hand-wringing to egotistical, and were a little too earnest at times.

Then of course there was the persona of Father John Misty himself. Joshua Tillman may indeed be a down-to-earth kind of guy, however his alias is nothing of the kind.

Whether he was leaping onto the bass drum, hands stretched to the heavens, thrusting his hips into the microphone stand, or flinging his acoustic guitar dramatically in the direction of a conveniently positioned stage hand, every self-aggrandising movement was done to maximum effect.

The first question is whether this persona is wholly an act, the second is, does it matter? 

There were moments of self-awareness, including when he acknowledged the “humorous and cynical” thoughts forming in the minds of people in the audience.

However it did feel that the posturing of “The Father” was detrimental to the overall experience, which would otherwise have been one of a band of highly accomplished musicians and a skilled front-man.

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