Sunday 17th February, 2013 at Chevron Festoval Gardens, Perth.
Review by Benjamin Arnold.
Atmospherically, the Chevron Festival Gardens were an absolute delight. Fairy lights and art installations created a lazy dream like vibe and as FATHER JOHN MISTY front man, Joshua Tillman put it, it felt like ‘An evening curated by David Lynch’. It was a wonderful gateway to the aural delights that followed. In support of their 2012 debut ‘Fear Fun’ and as a part of the Perth Festival, Father John Misty had made the trip out to Australia to treat audiences to an evening of hip shaking and smooth country tunes. This was definitely not your average Friday night Northbridge pub show.
After receiving some much deserved media attention and on the back of a national tour, Perth country folk quintet RUBY BOOTS were welcomed to the stage. For a band of just five, Ruby Boots expand well past the limitations and achieve a sound both full and rich. A gorgeous blend of organs, violins and vocal harmonies found their way into every corner and ear of the stadium. Singer, Bex Chilcott has a beautifully sweet country twang to her voice, and when she needs to, it manages to have just a dash of gravel. Engaging and returning jokes with the few brave enough to venture to the very front; Chilcott proved she was more than ok with a little bit of rude language. Ruby Boots put heart and soul into every note that rang out that night; it was more than enough to win over the hearts of even the most uninterested in country music.
After a bit of a wait and a little bit more alcohol, Father John Misty collectively picked up their instruments to a sea of applause. ‘Stop objectifying me’ claimed the ragged looking Tillman as he motioned to cease the applause. From the beginning it was going to be a show equally as humorous as it was audibly beautiful. Looking noticeably ‘relaxed’, Tillman sipped red wine from a bottle before opening with ‘Funtimes in Babylon’. Chopping and changing parts here and there, they danced and enjoyed themselves as much, if not more than the crowd. A notable aspect of the show and one that deserves a review all to its own, were Tillman’s hips. His dancing and hip shaking was no less than hypnotizing. As the show progressed and the bottle of wine shrank, Tillman’s moves became more fluid and flamboyant – a perfect example of a natural born entertainer. Because ‘Fear Fun’ is only 12 tracks long, Father John Misty didn’t have an extensive catalogue to choose from. However Tillman was absolutely on fire, filling in the gaps with endlessly amusing banter. He managed to recall a situation earlier in the day when one of the band members had met the ‘Most beautiful woman ever’ and watched her ‘Barf, face down in the dirt’.
After rounding out an incredible performance with hit song ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’, ending in what can only be described as a feedback solo freak out, Father John Misty were called back to the stage. Unlike most encores that end up feeling a bit contrived, this felt more natural, and even if it wasn’t, the crowd demanded it. Having performed all the songs from ‘Fear Fun’, Father John Misty treated us to a sneak peek at a new one. It was a slightly awkward to finish on such a high note and then to start a song no one knows the words to as part of an encore. The mood was quickly lifted as Father John Misty performed a rousing rendition of CANNED HEAT’s ‘On the Road Again’, with Tillman jumping off the stage during an extended jam section to better showcase his dance moves. Bex Chilcott of Ruby boots called Fear Fun ‘the best album of 2012’. To add to this, Father John Misty has easily been the best live act of 2013.