Josh Tillman, who goes by the stage moniker Father John Misty, delivered an exceptional performance at The Ritz in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday that featured everything from humorous stage banter to slow dances.
With the release of his critically acclaimed album, I Love You Honeybear in February, Tillman’s audience has appeared to have grown exponentially, which proved to be a true factor in Raleigh with a nearly sold out show.
The show kicked off with opener Mikal Cronin, whose relatively guitar heavy, Ty Segall-inspired indie garage rock sound seemed to impress everyone in the audience. While Cronin didn’t have much to say, his guitar sound spoke for itself with its melt-your-face-off intensity. This was especially true on the last song they performed, “Gold.”
While the audience anxiously awaited, the band finally began to play the opening chords to the title track on I Love You, Honeybear, and out walked Tillman in an undersized black blazer, skinny dress pants, and a beard that you might see on the face of an Oregon lumberjack. Tillman immediately took control of the stage with utmost confidence as he belted out the lyrics “Don’t give into despair/Cause I love you, Honeybear.”
As the show progressed, Tillman continued to dazzle the audience with slick dance moves, expressions of utter coolness, and witty banter. His frontmanship was best seen during songs like “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” (during which he played on a shining pink guitar) and “I’m Writing a Novel,” where he interacted with the audience in both humorous and dramatic forms.
“I think it’s time for something I do best, a sad, sarcastic ballad,” said Tillman as he began to sing one of his signature songs, “Bored In The U.S.A,” a sarcastic stab at modern society. Tillman’s vocals shined through over the song’s dry, humorous lyrics.
As the show came to a close, Tillman took the time to do a mini Q&A. The questions ranged on different topics such as what music he and his wife fornicate to (no music according to Tillman), to being asked by an audience member if they could slow dance on stage to one of his songs. “You gotta do some things before you can get on this stage,” said Tillman. “One of them being learn an instrument…and then quit when it gets hard. That’s what I did.”
After ending the set with a superb rendition of the loud and heavy “The Ideal Husband,” Tillman walked back onstage for a soft encore with the tender love song “I Went To The Store One Day.” Tillman’s vocals sound warm and beautiful, often even better than the record. One lyric in particular, “I’ve got some money left and it’s cheaper in the South,” garnered quite an applause.
After the song, Tillman surprised the audience with the uplifting “Every Man Needs a Companion,” where the couple from the earlier Q&A unexpectedly made an appearance on stage to slow dance together. It proved to be quite a sweet moment as Tillman watched, smiling from ear to ear.
All in all, Father John Misty made it very clear in Raleigh that his live performance is definitely one of the best out there right now. Tillman will perform a few more dates in Europe, and hopefully will be releasing new music in the near future.
Written by Jordan Williams