Live Review: Father John Misty

9 December 2015 | 4:12 pm | Alex Michael

"Tillman was his usual amazing self, rarely missing a note as he danced and finger-waggled his way around stage."

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Let's try and work out what the fuck that was all about. Father John Misty (aka Joshua Tillman)'s Tuesday night stint at the Sydney Opera House was jaw-dropping, disappointing, fantastic, amusing, perplexing and unpredictable. Admittedly, the negative phrases above have been used to trick dear reader into thinking that Tillman's performance might not have been all it was expected to be; this is not the case. Tillman was his usual amazing self, rarely missing a note as he danced and finger-waggled his way around stage with the calculated, larger than life resoluteness of a seasoned stage magician, or veteran bin-man (have you ever noticed the poise and adroitness the guys that hang off garbage trucks have?). Ultimately 'twas the capricious, early-evening-drunk crowd that threatened to tear the whole thing down. Oh the vagaries of a Sydney Opera House crowd! Such a strange confluence of hipster and conservative, like a handful of Donald Trump supporters accidentally walking into a Bernie Sanders rally.

House lights dimmed for a 9pm start, as Tillman's band of bearded doppelgangers emerged first, launching into the twee opening retorts of I Love You, Honeybear, affording Tillman the kind of mythologised solo entrance — as the plodding drums kicked in — that those versed in his endearing, egotistic stage persona should well have expected. He gyrated and sauntered, his knees frequently collapsing under the weight of the electric band, histrionic lyricism and immaculate light show. Misty and band's grandeur-tipped tendrils stretched into the crowd with all their worth and were met with majority amazement and fanfare.

That bloody weird Opera House crowd though! After The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment's satirical misogyny was retold with equally prodding effeminate poses and strides, Tillman noted that perhaps the crowd were "a bit stiff". Floodgates opened, ladies and gentlemen. Obsequious intent from some of the louder attendees manifested itself as awkward cries and missed punchlines. "I love you, honeybear" was used a compliment — as opposed to a song request — on numerous occasions and at one point a likely inebriated person managed to affectionately tell Tillman to shut the fuck up. 

Later, Bored In The USA was met with deserved applause as Tillman snatched an iPhone from the crowd at the song's land of opportunity-damning climax, nonchalantly singing into its artificial eye as if to punctuate the track's condemnation of 21st century privilege and its propensity to live vicariously through the smartphone. The Ideal Husband continues to outshine its recorded counterpart with warm-blooded energy and intent.

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Father John Misty and co were the kind of god-like amazing that eradicates the sins of the (extremely) vocal minority. The heterogeneous crowd make-up was ultimately as detrimental as the Concert Hall's perennially distorted right speaker, just a bit of line level ground hum in a sea of euphonious opulence, the imperfect clicks and pops that let you know the record's still spinning.