Review: Father John Misty at the Guildhall, Southampton

Father John Misty (AKA Josh Tillman) is a deeply distinctive and enigmatic artist. A self-styled ironic messiah, everything about him '“ from his name to his album artwork (a painting of the baby Jesus in Mary's arms, with Tillman's face replacing the infant's) '“ is profound yet pastiche.

Sunday, 22nd May 2016, 2:22 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2016, 11:06 am
Father John Misty

Svelte, feline and often back-lit in silhouette, he gyrates like a Motown songstress and drops to his knees during more emphatic verses.

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But his often overlooked voice is the most striking thing about his Southampton performance. It’s powerful and pitch-perfect, soulful and versatile. He’s also a remarkable songwriter, juxtaposing themes like religion, modern love and consumerism, in irreverent but deeply intimate songs.

His six-piece band glides seamlessly through instruments, crescendos and unusual chord and key changes. Their set moves through genres, opening with country/folk Everyman Needs a Companion through ballads like When You’re Smiling And Astride Me to dance with True Affection, hard rock with The Ideal Husband, an acoustic section and a psychedelic section.

Tragicomic but uplifting, particular highlights were the appreciative crowd filling in the canned laughter for Bored in the USA, an emphatic finale with his latest album’s title track, I Love You, Honeybear, and a tender solo encore of I Went To The Store One Day.