Psychedelic-folk Troubadour seduces North London.

Father John Misty

Roundhouse, Camden – 19th May 2016

A Rihanna cover, a reference to his ‘Beyonce Money’, and some explosively sensual dance moves. It could only be Father John Misty.

“I get propositioned almost every night on tour… by a really hot sounding dude”, Josh Tillman announces mid-gig, following a string of progressively more explicit declarations of love from a somewhat over-zealous, husky-voiced punter. “Growing up, this was always the dream. To look out over a sea of sexy bros”. To be fair, seeing him tonight in full flow, brilliantly illuminated and cavorting centre-stage while belting out tracks from his Father John Misty albums – in between a plethora of casually deployed, off-hand witticisms – it’s difficult not fall for his rugged, hirsute, and yet somehow slightly effeminate charm.

From his pseudo-preacher stage name to his startling resemblance to a sharply tailored, be-suited Jesus, there’s always been an oddly religiously lilt to Tillman’s alter ego, and tonight that parallel is further enforced by a live show which oscillates between the wildly evangelical and the salaciously hedonistic. Tracks like Hollywood Cemetery Forever, Tillman’s angular, distorted expression of his inner grunger, see him back-lit by a hazy red glow that leaves him as a dark, gyrating silhouette. It’s at moments like this that you feel as though you’re stumbled into some seedy bordello where Father John has been booked as the evening’s entertainment. By contrast, Only Son of a Preacher Man feels like a born-again revival, without the self-righteous idealism, as the lighting switches to a clean white, Tillman’s hair haloed from behind, making him look all the more like the modern and openly flawed messiah he so often resembles. It’s difficult not to stand up in the metaphorical pews and sing his praises to the rafters.

There’s a temptation upon hearing the predominately acoustic-driven, country-tinged offerings from  Father John Misty’s two studio LPs Fear Fun and I Love You, Honeybear, to assume that a stripped back, folksy performance will be the natural incarnation for his music to assume on stage. This a myth which Tillman sets about dismantling with his gloriously unrestrained set that sees him belt out this collection of tunes with a visceral intensity that will give you chills – never more apparent than when the usually dulcet Holy Shit descends into an aggressive, atonal bombardment that assaults the senses, before meandering back to more familiar territory for a rousing finale, underpinned by some soaring vocal harmonies.

Elsewhere, the digitised, synth-propelled True Affection becomes a house rave, replete with Epilepsy-inducing pink strobes, while his performance on Bored in the USA is more reminiscent of stand up gig than a rock show as he wanders across the stage – every gesture and flicker of the eyes designed to elicit a reaction from his captivated audience. He draws laughs effortlessly with interspersion of some well-placed profanity, while the gentle tinkling of ivories and profound subject matter underscore the whimsical delivery with a potent social commentary and delicious sense of irony. Finally, set-closer I Love You, Honeybear sees the charismatic showman launch himself into the crowd, surfing the grateful wave of hands for a period before dropping into the sweaty midst of his dedicated following.

As if to cap off a night where the mystic shaman remains as delightfully unpredictable as ever, Tillman returns for his encore unaccompanied (“I was halfway to the bus but my business manager dragged me back… ‘They’re dying for it’, he told me”, the maestro shares with a wry smile) busting out a tender rendition of I Went to the Store that works in a gleefully-received nod to his recent revelation that his music has been used on a new Beyonce track, before launching in to a down-and-dirty cover of Rihanna’s latest smash hit Kiss It Better. “I’ve never heard a more moving tribute to going down on someone”, he says by way of explanation. When he’s done re-working this chart-topper it’s difficult to imagine the Bajan songstress herself delivering a more sexually-charged performance. Bizarrely it seems exactly what was called for – “You’ve got to pull a rabbit out of the hat, having just fucking stage-dove”, he adds, recalling the earlier fictionalised managerial conversation backstage.

When the curtain closes following a suitably ferocious outing of Ideal Husband it’s not hard to see why Father John Misty is being touted as a must-see live act. With Tillman the undisputed star of the show – he jokingly berates his guitarist for “speaking into the mic”, reminding him that “it’s my show!” – the momentum looks set to continue for the mesmerising impresario. With or without his Beyonce royalties.

Words: Henry Wickham

Punk Goddess warms up indie rock’s Latest Champions

The Crookes

Misty Miller

Oslo, Hackney – 24th February 2016

Delivering a punchy one-two combo in Hackney’s trendy restaurant-come-bar-come-live music venue are spunky Brixton support act Misty Miller and northern Romanticists The Crookes. In two sets packed full of crunching guitars and catchy vocal hooks there is plenty on offer here from two artists who collaborated last year on the latter’s B-Side single Ex-Lovers, and tonight they rattle through an uplifting batch of hits-in-waiting with visceral aplomb. Continue reading

Special Guests and Suitably Quirky Surroundings

SOFAR SOUNDS

Johnny Lloyd

Marika Hackman

Mystery Jets

Imakr 3D Printing Store, Clerkenwell – 25th January 2016

As the customary array of London hipsters cram themselves gracefully into yet another impromptu performance space, provided courtesy of Clerkenwell’s 3D printing studio Imakr, the air of anticipation is even more palpable than usual. It is a rare occurrence that Sofar Sounds, a pioneering movement synonymous with supporting unsigned and lesser known acts, flirts with the mainstream. And yet as the trendy crowd – a sea of rolled up trousers and bare ankles – perch themselves on picnic blankets and, for the lucky few, a lone sofa, the air is abuzz with rumours that this evening’s show will feature a headline slot from a band who have released five studio albums, scored a string of Top 40 singles and sold out arenas across the country. As if to nonchalantly confirm the social media gossip, Mystery Jets bassist Jack Flanagan reclines casually on the aforementioned sofa, grinning and laughing as though he’s kicking back in his own front room. Tonight, Sofar plays host to Indie rock royalty. Continue reading

Bombastic Homecoming for Corduroy Rockers

Public Service Broadcasting

O2 Academy, Brixton – 29th November 2015

Public Service Broadcasting have promised that tonight’s set will be special. They do not disappoint. In a set bedecked with pyrotechnics, dancing astronauts and a replica of the first Sputnik space craft, the be-tweeded heroes of alt rock still take centre stage, resplendent in their customary cardigans and bowties. Add in to the mix a full choir, string section and choreographed brass ensemble and you have the makings of a truly triumphant homecoming gig.  Continue reading

Dazzling. Surreal. Vaguely Sensual. Closure in Moscow storm North London.

Closure in Moscow

The Garage, Highbury – 10th November 2015

Exploding ferociously on to one of the smallest stages in the capital come a band as exciting and off the wall as they are well honed and engaging. Barely large enough to contain their five members, let alone when they start pumping and gyrating with a visceral intensity, the modestly proportioned performance area positively throbs as effortlessly charismatic frontman Christopher de Cinque and his bandmates tear through a blistering, ear melting set. Continue reading

Alt-Rock Duo launch celestial Space Race chronicle

Public Service Broadcasting

The Race For Space

Think that an album charting the history of the 1960s Cold War Space Race between the USA and the Soviet Union isn’t for you? Think again. London-based musical pioneers/diligent public service archivists Wrigglesworth and J. Willgoose Esq return in 2015 with an album that expertly splices snippets of archived radio propaganda footage with a multitude of musical styles from art rock and disco-punk through to krautrock and electronica. Veering away from the temptation to produce a bleak, sparse backdrop of minimalist post-rock to accompany these grainy, crackling outtakes from the Huston and Moscow space centres, Public Service Broadcasting will propel you on a sonic voyage through the annals of musical history.

Continue reading

Former Fleet Foxes drummer cuts loose with uninhibited second album.

Father John Misty

I Love You, Honeybear

Witty, intelligent, charming, casually self-deprecating, sharply dressed and only reluctantly sincere, Josh Tillman is undoubtedly a man who lets his music speak for itself. Having parted ways with extravagantly hirsute folk-rock icons Fleet Foxes back in 2012, the band’s former drummer returns with one of the most lyrically absorbing albums you can hope to get your hands on this year. Still boasting a beard of almost tropical luxuriance, Tillman shows an intuitive grasp of writing psychedelic folk tunes with lyrics wickedly cynical yet searingly honest and at times piercingly heartfelt.“Love is just an institution based on human frailty” he bellows on one of the album’s more perplexingly uplifting moments; his most striking attribute as a songwriter is to make such seemingly bleak and bitter sentiments feel profoundly cathartic. Continue reading