Father John Misty, Village Underground

Father John Misty, Village Underground

by jessicajolly / Mar 20, 2015 / 0 comments
Friday, 20 March 2015

I'st all about sex, isn’t it? Every story of star-crossed lovers, every romantic song ever written, underneath them all lies that primal urge. “That’s why birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it”: Cole Porter knew his biological science.

At Village Underground Joshua Tillman put his stamp on the theme. Under his stage name Father John Misty, the singer enacted a sultry display of courtship, twirling the microphone stand and swirling his hips in a way that we haven’t seen in the indie community since Jarvis Cocker seduced us all in Pulp.

The track from the new Father John Misty album, I Love You, Honeybear , which is about his alter ego, is a satirical version of Tillman himself, trying to find a wife. You could hear echoes of his label-mate John Grant in the music, a dream of 1970s Californian soft-rock. But Tillman’s version is louder and more uninhibited, evident tonight in the way “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” went from gentle piano and steel guitar to a huge of wall of sound, the singer agitating the microphone so much it flew off its lead.
Even in heavily ironised form, the male display could be tiring: a version of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” added nothing to the song but a smirk. But mostly the high wire act was magnificent, a self-deprecatory kind of showing off. The slacker’s lament “Bored in the USA” summed it up, the singer crooning verses as witty as Randy Newman while narcissistically filming himself with a mobile phone. But at the same time a touching piano and string melody freighted the humour with genuine feeling. “Every man needs a companion,” he sang in the last song: the exhibitionism had a purpose.

Rating out of 11: