Father John Misty at O2 Apollo, Manchester, 17 March 2023, from £30.00 - Book now
On 17 March, Joshua Tillman AKA Father John Misty performs at the O2 Apollo in support of his fifth studio album, Chloë and The Next 20th Century.
Painting languid portraits of love and life on the margins, Father John Misty’s records are some of the best that folk rock’s had to offer over the last 10 years or so. From the harmony-laden hymns and Laurel Canyon-inspired neo-psychedelia of 2012’s Fear Fun to the caustically funny and surprisingly sweet I Love You, Honeybear, Tillman’s early albums under the Misty moniker were lapped up by the music press and earned him a cult following of fans who resonated with the cocktail of romanticism, cynicism and narcissism served up in his songwriting.
Finding Tillman at the piano, chortling into the abyss, 2017’s prophetic Pure Comedy meditated on the ludicrous nature of modern existence, taking aim at everything from politics to social media, celebrity culture to religion. This sardonic journey through excess, absurdity and 21st century mores continued into the following year’s God’s Favorite Customer, written during a six-week period when Tillman was living in a hotel. Continuing to prove himself a master of classic melody, it’s hard to refute the genius of songs like the ’70s-inflected ‘Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All’ and the genuinely hilarious ‘Mr Tillman’ (listen below).
Father John Misty’s fifth and latest record, Chloë and The Next 20th Century, sees Tillman and producer/multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Wilson resume their longtime collaboration, with Dave Cerminara as engineer and mixer. Reaching back to the golden age of Hollywood, the album’s full of lushly orchestrated love songs that look towards mid-century big band orchestration and jazz crooners like Johnny Mathis and Chet Baker. Lyrically, there’s a Lynchian unreality the loosely-connected vignettes that fill the album, all imbued with typically dark humour, from the ill-suited couple whose death in a road traffic accident is presented as a lucky break (‘We Could Be Strangers’) to a failed romance rekindled by the death of a cat (‘Goodbye Mr Blue’).
Tillman’s voice has never sounded so good, his dreamy, slightly bruised tenor finding a perfect backdrop in the jazzy ballad ‘Buddy’s Rendezvous’, a standout track that’s since been covered very well by Lana Del Rey. His voice shines even brighter on the close-miked ‘Kiss Me (I Loved You)’ – a classic, sepia-toned love song that proves Tillman capable of transcending era, both as a songwriter and as a performer.
It was way back in 2017 that Father John Misty last played in Manchester, accompanied by his band and both a brass and a string section. The show received rave reviews. There’s not much information about, but given the orchestral nature of his latest record, we’re thinking the stage set-up for his 17 March show at the Apollo will be pretty similar. In any case, it’s his first gig in the city for six years, and tickets are predictably flying. Get in there quick if you’re after one.