PICTURE Nick Cave if he managed to catch a bit more sunlight, and you are on your way to appreciating Father John Misty, the charismatic, theatrical, testifying troubadour alter ego of Josh Tillman, a man once trapped behind the drumkit in Fleet Foxes, but now unleashed to dispense his sarcastic socio-political paeans through a retro Californian country soul prism.
Father John Misty | Rating: **** | Academy, Glasgow
His music recalls the work of 60s pop mavericks such as Mike Naismith and Dennis Wilson and is unapologetic in its craft, but this is partly what makes FJM an intoxicating prospect. Tillman held the audience rapt with the songs, persona and performance alone; there was zero banter between numbers yet the conversational lyrical style allowed for some intimacy as well as humour to resonate through this large room.
His raggle-taggle band filled the space with some rambunctious, rootsy moments but it was the quieter caustic consideration of his 21st century blues ballad Bored In the USA which puts Tillman up there with John Grant and Rufus Wainwright as a chronicler of modern malaise.
Returning to the stage, he treated Rihanna’s Kiss It Better with a respect it probably doesn’t deserve. After 90 minutes of exquisite melody, to encore with a track sorely lacking in a tune felt perverse – but it is that edge which rescues FJM from accusations of being a Laurel Canyon throwback.