Father John MistyEventim Olympia 27/10/18
The Olympia’s ornate chandeliers and tiered seating contrast with this evening’s host. A contrast akin to cabaret and boxing, and yet it makes an apt choice for tonight’s gig, what with the whimsical and more pugnacious sides to FATHER JOHN MISTY. Something about its grandeur and the stories it could tell would resonate with the man on stage.
Josh Tillman is an entertainer and story-teller whose lyrics create vivid snapshots of a life far from here, but whose keen eye for well-judged detail and a leftfield world view strikes a chord with the assembled crowd. He’s on top form tonight, charming the audience with warmth, humour and his tragi-comic tales and lyrics.
From the first note of the opening song Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, he holds the audience in the palm of his hand. Mr Tillman and Disappointing Diamonds Are The Rarest Of Them All quickly follow. He’s confident and is enjoying himself. He’s got a powerful voice: the belly rumbling sound which emanates from him fills the cavernous space up to the gods. The lighting cranks up the drama and he wields the microphone stand with the confidence of a seasoned star: he’s got some moves and perfect élan.
It’s not just him, though. His band have much more than a supporting role. It’s composed of musicians whose talents are evident as they rattle through a comprehensive set list. They cover various albums with an understanding of Father John Misty that is surely a pre-requisite to a starting space in the band.
The between song patter is as easy, funny and intelligent as his lyrics. The night is justifiably sold out and the crowd love every move, shimmy and dramatic lift of the mic stand. For some it’s the first time, others are fervent fans and for some of them it seems almost a religious experience.
Tonight he’s in a playful mood with a sardonic response to the expectation of an encore. We all know he will come back on but he calls it a “stupid bit of theatre” as we play our part and wait patiently. What could be perceived as arrogance or petulance in a less charismatic performer is just funny as he complains: “We just ended the set – that was the big ending I had in mind.” The final barrier between audience and performer is removed, we all laugh and feel that little bit closer to this inspiring performer whose USP is being intelligent with a side order of vulnerability and insight. Oh, and some cracking tunes.
It’s an encore worthy of the rest of the amazing night. He performs The Palace, I Love You Honey Bear and Date Night, and then he’s off. A poetic charmer who revels in his fallibilities, whose legion of fans will clamour to see him again when he’s in these parts next.