Father John Misty at Auckland's St Jame's Theatre review

Father John Misty rocked his way through a folk-filled, outrageously energetic show at Auckland's St James theatre on ...
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Father John Misty rocked his way through a folk-filled, outrageously energetic show at Auckland's St James theatre on Thursday.

Father John Misty didn't waste any time proving that white beardy folk singers can dance.

Strolling onto stage at Auckland's St Jame's Theatre to the strains of the Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin song Je T'aime Moi Non Plus, the tall, eccentric frontman lunged straight for the microphone, lifted the mic stand above his head and dropped to his knees.

His opening song - the title track off the album, I Love You, Honeybear - had an outrageous rock n' roll feel that most folk singers would never attempt; limbs flailing, body thrusting, and a couple of times dropping dramatically to the floor like a tennis player who's just won a grand slam.

The artist formerly known as Joshua Tillman was drummer for Fleet Foxes until 2012, before branching out to start his solo career as 'the Father'.

He is a multi-talented frontman and the set showcased his ability to shift effortlessly between instruments, genre, tempo, stand-up comedy, social commentary, and back to music.

There were acoustic guitar solos morphing into synthesisers and wildly over-the-top dancing that ebbed and flowed with songs that were heartfelt, or dripping with sarcasm, or both.

It was a slightly older crowd and most stood still, either out of reverence to the performance, or to appear trendy and aloof. 

But Tillman converted the uninitiated and his energy was contagious enough to eventually get the ornate theatre gently rocking. 

He glided through crowd-pleasers from The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment, Chateau Lobby #4 (In C for Two Virgins), to his "sarcastic ballad about despair" Bored In The USA, Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow, and Only Son Of The Ladiesman.

By the time he stopped for a breath he joked that it was nice to see people having what was obviously the best night of their lives.

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"It's the bare minimum of what I need to keep me going every night," he said.

There was a digression into a comedy routine, including a story about tenpin bowling that featured a nod to the news item of the day and how obsessed America is with guns.

The 'Father' was in his element, holding court in the revamped theatre, bringing the audience along with his whimsical and ironic observations. 

There were the already devout followers out there, and one woman climbed on stage twice to get a closer look at the man who carried on performing. 

A question and answer session during the encore saw fans shout out questions like what products does he use use in his beard, whether his partner was around and whether he would like to meet up later.

The hip, folky crowd were suddenly giggling school children.

It was a funny interaction to cap off a high energy performance, which ended with We Met At the Store and Every Man Needs A Companion.

The 'Father' is an entertainer on the rise and someone who's never likely to be accused of being dull.

 

 - Stuff

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