Father John Misty made his return to Atlanta for the first time behind his latest album, Pure Comedy (April 2017, Sub Pop Records), with a sold out show last Wednesday at the Tabernacle that showed off the musician’s versatility as a performer.
I believe I’ve seen every show that Josh Tillman has performed in Atlanta since first leaving the Fleet Foxes and becoming Father John Misty. There is still vivid memories of FJM at Masquerade’s Hell venue at the original location off of North Avenue. That show was flanked by the just as amazing Har Mar Superstar, and the two combined for what was just as much a comedy show as it was it was a live music performance. With Har Mar stripping down to his bright white undies (and Tillman on drums) one song at a time, Tillman took to the stage with one album’s worth of material (2012’s Fear Fun). Tillman filled time during the show with stage banter full of truths and funny quips about society and himself. Not only was he on point as a musician, but I don’t believe I’ve ever laughed so hard at one show.
Since then Father John Misty has performed at Masquerade’s Hell, Variety Playhouse, Terminal West, and the Tabernacle, while providing less stage banter with each performance, focusing in more on the music itself. These days FJM saves most of his self evident truths and stage banter for interviews, or when he is on social media, and even more so now putting his truths about today’s world directly into the music. With Pure Comedy, there’s no need to drop his bombs in his banter, instead letting the music itself do all the talking. And that’s what Atlanta got last week at the Tabernacle, a career spanning set that not only shows off his versatility as a musician, but also gave the crowd the opportunity to share together in a concert experience that’s hard to forget.
Surrounded by a band full of stellar musicians, FJM played select songs from all three of his albums, showing that Father John Misty can’t be pigeonholed into just one genre. There was the 70’s Laurel Canyon influence of “Nancy From Now On” off of his first album Fear Fun, along with the rock ‘n’ roll of “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” off the same album. There was “I’m Writing a Novel” also off the first album, that has been getting crowds moving for years and didn’t disappoint on this night. There was the dancy synth pop of “True Affection” off of I Love You, Honeybear that had Tillman and the crowd dancing around the Tabernacle. There was some of the most romantic songs you’ve ever heard such as “Chateau Lobby #4” that had the crowd singing at the top of their lungs. The standalone single “Real Love Baby” even made an appearance, kind of surprise that FJM has embraced his most straight forward love song on this tour, giving crowds what they want, and a definite hit on this night at the Tab. There was the ballad of “Bored In The USA” and many ballads off of Pure Comedy that gave FJM the chance to give powerful commentary within the songs on today’s world, while providing the audience chances to sing at the top of their lungs with Tillman, all while stopping for a giggle at the lines of truth that FJM drops in these songs. The encore even brought one of my personal favorites off of Pure Comedy, “So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain”, a gorgeous 10 minute folksy ballad that gave the band a chance to show off the beauty in their musicianship.
On this night at the Tabernacle, Father John Misty kept the banter to the minimum, instead choosing to play some damn music and let the audience revel together in the powerful experience of what live music is all about. Yeah, FJM is still his cynical self, but he leaves everything out there on the stage, singing his absolute heart out on each song and providing plenty of his signature sexy dance moves. He’s a joy to watch, and even more of a joy to experience live, in person for yourself. In light of yesterday’s attack in Vegas, it’s hard not to reflect on what exactly live music is about. It’s supposed to be a safe place that the audience can experience as one without fear, and that’s exactly what Father John Misty is providing these days. An experience that you won’t soon forget, for that I thank the man Josh Tillman for providing some light of hope in this world. His live show is not to be missed. I know I already can’t wait for his return.
Check out Mike Gerry’s photos from Father John Misty at the Tabernacle Atlanta:
Father John Misty – Tabernacle Atlanta Setlist:
Total Entertainment Forever
Ballad of the Dying Man
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow
Only Son of the Ladiesman
When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell to Pay
When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
This Is Sally Hatchet
Bored In The USA
I’m Writing a Novel
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
I Love You, Honeybear
Real Love Baby
So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain
The Ideal Husband
Father John Misty Upcoming Tour Dates
WED, Oct 4 Orpheum Theater (AZ), Phoenix, AZ
THU, Oct 5 The Observatory North Park, San Diego, CA
FRI, Oct 6 The Observatory North Park, San Diego, CA