Photographs by Katrina Lat.
Perched beneath the words “tragedy” and “comedy,” within the walls of the ornate Royal Alexandra Theatre, Father John Misty kicked off the tour promoting his most recent album, Pure Comedy, with an intensity befitting his music.
American singer-songwriter, Josh Tillman, took on the tongue-in-cheek religious moniker of Father John Misty for his solo efforts after years in the indie music scene. On Friday, the sold-out venue greeted Misty like a returning hero. And Misty seemed to feed off that energy. On stage, Misty channeled a number of attention grabbing characters, mimicking preachers and burlesque dancers. No matter what he did, it was hard to take your eyes off of him.
Over a dozen musicians, including strings and horns preceded Misty onto the dais. The first song of his set, Pure Comedy, foretold of the music and visuals that would come. As was expected, Misty loaded his set with songs from the new record. These songs are dramatic and benefitted greatly from Misty’s full-on delivery. Misty rolled from one song to the next, only addressing the room halfway through the concert. He seemed content to let the songs convey his message. His lyrics are dense and his turn of phrase delightful. It would have been easy to get caught up in the beauty of the language, but the lyrical barrage kept listeners anticipating. The more upbeat songs, more folk-rock in nature, brought the audience to its feet. Misty’s brand of music has tapped into the heads and hearts of his fans with his ironic, satirical and wisely questioning lyrics. He had the hipster-heavy crowd eating it up like $5 tacos on a Saturday night.
When Misty came out for his encore, he engaged in a loose Q&A with the crowd. Here, he allowed us a glimpse into Joshua Tillman’s wry and not too serious personality. He poked fun at his reputation for being a thinking man’s rocker, while slyly answering a question about his favourite philosopher. He also took a moment to thank Dams of the West, the pop-punk band who opened the show. All in all, Misty delivered a captivating, fun concert. He is a powerful performer who delivers intimacy and spectacle simultaneously. That’s a combination that’s hard to resist.