As the former Fleet Fox brought his acclaimed I Love You, Honeybear to Liverpool, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson finds very little to love about it.
Ever since leaving Fleet Foxes and beginning a solo career under the name Father John Misty having previously released music under his own name, Josh Tillman has grown into a complete showman, worlds away from those days sat quietly behind the drums. His persona has almost become as important as the music (Father John Misty isn’t a character though, just ask Radcliffe and Maconie).
His acclaimed record I Love You, Honeybear propelled him closer towards the mainstream, even resulting in him being nominated for a BRIT Award, and gave us a closer look at this almost lothario character through his sarcastic yet deeply personal lyrics.
When we’ve seen Father John Misty perform live in the past, this personality shines through on stage. Tillman is usually a charismatic and engaging frontman, and although it’s theatrical and over-the-top, it’s entertaining at the very least.
But not tonight. It was a set lacking in charisma, energy and strangely, songs from I Love You, Honeybear for the best part of the first hour. There were a few packed in towards the end, but through the bulk of the set they were too spread out and far between. It never really built up any momentum until the very end.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, one of the more raw tracks from FJM‘s first record Fear Fun, had lost its edge completely, feeling completely diluted and sterile. Others such as Everyman Needs a Companion and Chateau Lobby #4 (In C for Two Virgins) floated by without really having much impact. It’s not that they were played badly, far from it in fact, but too polished and without much character.
Father John Misty himself was in a pretty subdued mood. The majority of the set goes without much interaction, and it even takes a few songs before he breaks away from in front of his mic, throws his guitar midway through When You’re Smiling and Astride Me and dances around in his trademark theatrical, dramatic way.
There are a couple of highlights though, and the piano ballad of Bored in the USA is certainly one of them, with the Mountford Hall crowd doing their best impression of the canned laughter from the record. The electronic synth sounds of True Affection give the set a much needed lift with Tillman throwing some serious shapes, but ultimately it’s not really enough.
In honesty, the whole thing is a bit soulless. The showmanship feels contrived and the usual charismatic Tillman for whatever reason just fails to hold our attention tonight. There’s no doubting his ability as a musician, he has a fantastic voice and I Love You, Honeybear is a genuinely great album, but live it all just feels completely flat.
Earlier in the night Ireland’s Bleeding Heart Pigeons opened up with half an hour of almost emo, atmospheric rock. It’s very early days for the three piece and there’s a lot of interesting elements to their sound, however they never really felt like the best match for a Father John Misty show.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Keith Ainsworth.