Father John Misty, Granada Theater, 5-6-13
Father John Misty in Phoenix a couple months ago.
Photo by Jim Louvau for Phoenix New Times: Slideshow
Last night in Dallas there was a man seemingly composed entirely of hips, the James Brown of Americana-folk, Mr. Father John Misty. He glided across the stage of the Granada Theater crotch-first, the first man to perfect the penis-led moonwalk. It was as if he was made only of the finest, slinkiest material, like none of him had joints or muscles or the other things that might make you and me the laughingstocks of the town should we attempt such a thing. If I tried to do whatever it is FJM is doing, rather than appearing to be a tall, sinewy willow I would in fact be revealed as the graceless hippopotamus that I am.
As you might have guessed, I have developed something of a mancrush on FJM. I would be perfectly happy for him to make sweet, gentle love to me. We could go somewhere warm and bright, but secluded, you know, a special place we'd both remember fondly. I'd take him to my favourite beach. He probably knows a better beach, who am I kidding. He's a man of the world. He'd be so attentive. He'd know all the right things to do. He'd make a wry joke. Going by his perfected stage banter he'd know the perfect words to say, oh, it would be so wonderful.
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FJM and his band of slinky folk musicians veritably sashayed onto the Granada stage. None of them can be more than a hundred pounds soaking wet, and yet they bring to bear some of the most excellent, fun, danceable Americana I have heard since arriving on these shores.
At times, it's very reminiscent of The Band, with the gently distorted, reverberating guitars and a folksy, straightforward rhythm section underneath some seriously smoky licks being put out by the lead guitar. Robbie Robertson never had moves like that, though. Oh my. It's like The Band had a singer that oozes sex appeal even if FJM's voice, although intoxicating, might not have the power to move a mountain like Levon's once did. It's more of a husky croon that sometimes stretches and cracks, even though that's part of its appeal. Nevertheless, the momentum the band manages to build up in the music at times happily bears such an incredibly Weighty comparison (that was a flawless pun).
The Granada was absolutely rammed, seriously full, and even better, every single person was having a bit of a boogie, as me old dad used to say. It was a hip-to-hip swayer of a gig, and the pressed-together masses swooned to the repeated formula of each song starting out as a furious whisper and progressing into either a full-on shout or a layered number dripping with character.
Couples everywhere were making out, booties were shaken, and no foot remained untapped. Those who weren't with it after a few numbers were the most into it by the end. It was much like the atmosphere at the Relatives gig at the Kessler recently, only the average age of participants was about two decades younger.
The set closer was "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings," with the first driving, pounding drumbeat of the night and dramatic lighting pushing the evening somewhere close to full-on distorted rock, accompanied of course by the most expressive FJM hip movements of the evening. For most of the set, the band peddled a much more relaxed, beachside road trip of a set, an Americana tinged with wistfulness and hope. I would like to go on a long drive with the entire band. The almost virally infectious "Son Of A Ladies' Man" was the perfect early set introduction to the FJM, for example. Nowhere was their particular brand of folk more clearly defined than the stupendous encore, where FJM played a new acoustic number about the wonderful life he could have with a girl he might meet at the store any time now, while an entire venue stared wistfully into his adorable beard. This was followed up by an expertly adapted "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" and "I Love You, Honeybear."
If there was one complaint, it's that the set was too short. Clocking in at just over an hour including encore, it felt like the whole thing was over in a flash. They do only have one album, I suppose. Nevertheless, as the house lights came up and people shuffled slowly out, I was left wistfully pining for the return of Father John Misty, like a dog whose owner just went down the shops. Imagine who he could meet down there. I might never see him again.
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