Father John Misty – Webster Hall – January 14, 2013
You may know of him as J. Tillman or as the drummer of Fleet Foxes, but today he goes by the more papal moniker Father John Misty. And while Father John Misty may not have any formal ties to the Catholic Church, he came to Webster Hall on a dreary Monday night in the dead of winter ready to preach the fine virtues of some damn fine folksy blues. In the months he’s been on tour since the release of his debut Father John Misty album, Fear Fun, last April (he’s recorded several other solo albums as J. Tillman), his songs have taken on a life beyond their recorded versions. “I’m Writing a Novel” has developed into a knee-slapping romper with that classic-rock drive behind it. His pleas of “Jesus Christ, girl!” alongside the soul-melting guitar riffs at the start of “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” had enough power behind them to bring observers to their knees.
Tillman makes it no secret that performing all this was great fun. His tall, lanky body, tangled-marionette dance moves and too-hot-for–Ed Sullivan hip gyrations make for a show all on their own. Such over-the-top stage moves make for the perfect complement to his playful songwriting. It’s also a hell of a lot easier to have fun in a crowd when the person singing onstage is unabashedly dancing his ass off. Having played through most of Fear Fun, Father John Misty went with a cover of Canned Heat’s “On the Road Again” as his encore. And now that he’s played a few shows in New York City, it might take a new album to bring back Father John Misty again. But maybe by then we’ll be calling him a saint. —Dan Rickershauser