Father John Misty plays two new tracks in New York City with Jason Isbell

Last week, Father John Misty headlined the Celebrate Brooklyn stage in New York City, accompanied by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – who he’s on a co-headline tour with at the moment – and Jade Bird. It’s the 41st year that Celebrate Brooklyn has been held, with a mix of free and paid gigs that run throughout the summer in Prospect Park. And as part of the show – and tour – FJM has been teasing audiences with some new tracks.

Jason Isbell, meanwhile, has been using the shows to give his 2017 record The Nashville Sound one more go around the country with his five piece band (The 400 Unit), while he also has been throwing in the track “Maybe It’s Time” from A Star is Born, which he wrote for Bradley Cooper. Naturally, it enjoyed one of the biggest singalongs of the night. A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” was also thrown in, and “If We Were Vampires”, off his last record, closed the set, with Amanda Shires joining in on vocals.

Here’s the full setlist:

Hope the High Road
24 Frames
White Man’s World
Something More Than Free
Traveling Alone
Last of My Kind
Stockholm
Flying Over Water
Cover Me Up
Overseas
Maybe It’s Time
Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac cover)
If We Were Vampires

Father John Misty then arrived in full band mode – with a brass section and no less than 8 members on stage (though no string section as he sometimes pulls out at his larger shows). Tillman looked dapper as always as he opened with the first track from God’s Favourite Customer, the brilliant “Hangout at the Gallows”. The set that followed jumped between all albums of his catalogue, from favourites like “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” to “Mr. Tillman”, with its rather meta Jason Isbell reference (which Misty added some extra echo for effect). “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution” was a favourite of the set, and later, he tied up his hair in a rare move (after being egged on by the crowd and making a big deal of it), before the beautiful “The Palace”.

This led into two new tracks; songs so new in fact I spotted sheets of music coming out for some members of the band. The first, “Time Makes Fools of us All”, sees Tillman on the harmonica, with synth and keys driving the music, rather than the guitar. Some beautiful lyrics make up the track, with the most memorable, “a man is like a country you need a map to find what you want”.

The other new song “Tell It Like It Is” had only been played once before on this tour, and had more of a spoken word approach than anything he’s done before, while the keys drove the track once again. It worked well live and together, shapes up some new flavours for the prolific artist’s next record.

The set finished off with the genius of “Pure Comedy”, which came something of a sermon of itself, as Tillman took time during the song to give some more of his thoughts on religion (delivered with his ever dry wit, as he had to reassure the crowd, “I’m serious!”). “Holy Shit” followed with a mammoth amount of energy and an explosion of sound. And “I Love You, Honeybear” closed out the main set.

The encore was a rather surprising pair – “I Went to the Store One Day” which Tillman delivered solo, and “Date Night”, which closed the night and had a mountain of extra energy itself – with a big audience clap along for good measure.

It was as superb as set as ever, with no animated projections as had featured in the past, but some great lights, and tonnes of energy. He often (half) jokes that he’s the songwriter of his generation (as he did tonight after his line about being in the “poem zone”), but I’ve gotta be honest: he’s not wrong.

Here’s the full setlist:

Hangout at the Gallows
When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
Mr. Tillman
Total Entertainment Forever
Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
Ballad of the Dying Man
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
Please Don’t Die
The Palace
Time Makes Fools of Us All
Tell It Like It Is
Pure Comedy
Holy Shit
I Love You, Honeybear

Encore:
I Went to the Store One Day
Date Night

FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Father John Misty and Jason Isbell continue their tour around the US tonight with Richmond, Virginia, with dates running through to June 29th. No word if Jason is still a little worried. Head HERE for more details about the tour.

The reviewer attended the performance on 19th June 2019 at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in New York City, as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn concert series. More details about the series – which is in its 41st year and continues through the Summer – can be found HERE.

While in New York City, we’re staying at the Hilton New York Midtown. For rates and more details, head to their website HERE.

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Larry Heath

Founding Editor of the AU review. You can find him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.