REVIEW: Father John Misty, The Sage Gateshead

It takes some incentive to tear this reviewer from the annual Eurovision bonanza, but Father John Misty at The Sage proved just that.

Sunday, 15th May 2016, 3:23 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th May 2016, 4:31 pm
Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.
Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Much anticipated and sold out long in advance, Saturday’s night’s Hall One show marked Josh Tillman’s first headlining visit since the release of I Love You, Honeybear; his superb sophomore album, and a fixture on virtually every Best of 2015 list.

Lately, the former Fleet Fox's personality has courted as many headlines as his music, yet much of his act is precisely that – an act - and every last person in tonight's audience was in on the joke.

Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

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How near these tales of excess, ego and romantic (mis)adventures veer to Tillman’s own character is unclear, but together with his classic country sensibility and larger than life charisma, they make for a hugely compelling spectacle.

Witness, for instance, the brutal-yet-hilarious character assassination of an ex-lover on Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow, or the none-too-subtle winks and cutting sarcasm which inflict the seemingly-poignant Bored In the USA.

Decked out in his usual all-black suit, Tillman looked every bit the dapper hipster Jesus, commanding the room with all the assurance and melodrama of someone wowing a room 10 times the size. Not all of it was choreographed, either.

Frustrated by early sound issues, the singer ditched his guitar midway through the aforementioned Nothing Good, nonchalantly launching it in the direction of his (fortunately alert) technician before grabbing the mic and seamlessly indulging in that familiar godlike routine.

Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

There was a more scripted, yet no less thrilling, surprise in the encore too, when Tillman introduced a cover of his “favourite love song".

Anyone uninitiated might have expected a tender or mawkish ballad. What we got was a marvellous rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, blown up in all its twisted, obscene glory.

An inspired addition, it was in a sense an amalgamation of Tillman’s appeal; a magnetic, powerful and above all wildly entertaining performer wrapped in the clothing of a divisive, insolent rock ‘n’ roll maverick.

Certainly, I’ll be lucky to find a more enjoyable live show this year – and judging by their frenzied reactions I suspect the bulk of tonight's crowd would concur.

Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Worth missing Eurovision for? You bet!

Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.
Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.
Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.
Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.
Father John Misty at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.