Updated: May 5, 2020
Last year, we were blessed with a majestic summer, made even brighter by the European tour of ingenious Folk king Father John Misty, as always offering his shimmering, majestical, yet bluntly truthful view of the world. What a privilege to be at the first night in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Bandstand; the music rang out against the beautiful blue hues of dusk, and the treetops tunefully swayed along. If you haven’t seen Misty live, please do. The underlying force of energy, performance, and lyrically brilliant songs adds to an atmosphere that sweeps you up.
This article shouldn’t be written without mention of his long-term touring band and crew for that matter, who positively add to the whole experience every time. This group of accomplished players is so tight, so in tune with what Misty has created and what he wants to share. Now, this particular leg progressed, leading to a special date in Hamburg’s Elphilharmonie. The merry bunch was joined by the Neue Philharmonie; creating a match made in heaven and a stunning evening.
That all seems like a fanciful, distant memory now: the freedom of travel, the enjoyment of a gig, all without the fear of hurting someone’s health, but we must hold on to the notion that it won’t be too long until we can become fully immersed in it again. Coronavirus has affected the Arts deeply, so with that in mind, Misty has remarkably released the live album Off-Key in Hamburg on Bandcamp today, donating all proceeds to Musicares Covid-19 Relief Fund to assist those affected in music.
There are 20 songs to indulge in here, a heady mix of records new and old, expertly mixed by Trevor Spencer. It’s full; it’s lush and so very sharp, the acoustics of the venue playing their part. Oh, and get the headphones out. Opening with Hangout At The Gallows, which offers the signature essence of many a Misty classic, building and leading to a thrashing climax; every one of the instruments inherently adding to the drama. This can also be said for Things It Would’ve Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution complete with it’s soaring brass, while Strange Encounter flourishes thanks to the strings.
Speaking of brass, it only serves to amplify the Mariachi vibes of anthem Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins), and its sweet lyrics, which we have come to know and love. Holy Shit offers a wild instrumental section where the orchestra feels like they are going to take off, leading to a beat of stillness and anticipation. I would have to say that song that encapsulates it all - the band, orchestra and voice - would be I Love You Honeybear. This standout and luscious track sounds perfect here.
This is a powerful release for more reasons than one. Father John Misty’s noble act will invariably raise much-needed funds, whilst providing a chance for folk to contribute and pleasurably listen. It offers hope that we can do this again and an insight into how seeing a live concert is a vital sharing, not just from the act, but also from the audience's emotive reactions. I for one shall never take an event like this for granted. Until the next balmy occasion, see you there…
Article by Beverley Knight