Father John Misty at Electric Picnic: ‘Where’d you get your hips?’

People are here to worship and Josh Tillman wowed both the converted and non-believers

Father John Misty
Electric Arena
★★

Father John Misty is always great live, but how will the socially scathing, sweetly nihilist songs from his recent album Pure Comedy play to a festival crowd? Bravely, the singer – real name Josh Tillman – opens his Electric Arena show with the first four tracks from the record in order. These verbose, challenging indie rock numbers might be tough to pitch to the uncoverted. Excellent opener Pure Comedy, for example, tackles existence, religion and post-Trump politics over prominent piano chords and huge brass. The audience sings along to every word. People are here to worship Our Father.

A dip into his catalogue comes next with lush When You’re Smiling and Astride Me and the first opportunity for Tillman to fall to his knees. He’s got a pelvis made of gelatin, this guy. When not strapped with a guitar to lead his band – which features a string section to add extra brawn to the arrangements – he’s gyrating, swiveling, pirouetting his narrow frame around the stage. “Where’d you get your hips?” one crowd member later shouts. Where’d Misty get his mic stand? It ends up behind his head during I Love You, Honeybear.

The show ends with jagged rocker The Ideal Husband, which drives the crowd absolutely wild. Tillman has been unusually quiet between songs tonight, but the with set over, he strolls around the stage applauding the arena and blowing kisses before unexpectedly unleashing a celebratory fist pump. It’s a rare moment of off-the-cuff passion from a man who is usually pretty impassive in the flesh. He seems genuinely moved by the affection for him here tonight.

In three words: Dynamic loquacious bravado

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