Review | Father John Misty and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall

The L.A. Philharmonic Gives Alt Crooner Some Savvy Back-Up

Father John Misty | Credit: Dustin Downing / LA Phil

Father John Misty’s sardonic swagger soared to new heights with the help of the L.A. Philharmonic in their sweeping show Friday night at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

With more than four lauded albums, Father John Misty, a k a Josh Tillman, melded poise and professionalism beautifully with the L.A. Phil’s meticulously polished arrangements. However, Misty’s sharp social critiques and punchy lyrics, unafraid to shine a light on the messier sides of human nature, lent a refreshing embrace of imperfection to the immaculate venue. Highlights included “Ballad of the Dying Man,” in which Misty croons, “Eventually, the dying man takes his final breath / but first checks his news feed to see what he’s about to miss.”

For an L.A. audience, many just recently getting comfortable with attending a live show, this quip illuminated the wonder of a live production. A palpable sense of relief that they did not need to view the show through a phone filled the room as the crowd warmed and softened and shared in the beauty onstage.

Credit: Dustin Downing / LA Phil

Misty’s new single, the Old Hollywood-esque “Funny Girl,” was the ideal track to be buoyed by the full orchestral accompaniment of the L.A. Phil. Songs old and new mixed and mingled in luscious interplay with the orchestra. Philosophical pop gems like “Pure Comedy” and “Holy Shit” were imbued with even more gravitas than his arresting voice could impart, paired with sophisticated strings and rich brass. Misty’s touring band didn’t miss a beat either; all parties in the production seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, a contagious engagement that proliferated through the audience ’til the final song.

Always one to call out a gimmick, Misty spilled the beans to the crowd about his impending, rarely surprising encore as he exited the stage and strode back out moments later to dive into a powerful rendition of “Funtimes in Babylon.”

Although Misty’s lyricism far from exalts the virtues of humanity, his commanding performance paired with the elegance of the L.A. Phil reminded viewers that humans are capable of creating true beauty.

For the full calendar of upcoming L.A. Phil concerts, visit laphil.com.


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