“The whole thing could only be more elegant,” said Father John Misty, surveying the crowd in New York’s legendary Rainbow Room, a place that epitomizes elegance, “if we had three tables full of shrimp cocktails.”
He wasn’t wrong. The opulent venue, which opened in 1934 and is located on the 65th floor of 30 Rock, features multiple chandeliers, a sunken, circular dance floor and some 15 floor-to-ceiling windows that offer stunning views of Midtown Manhattan and beyond with the Empire State The building’s nighttime light show occasionally distracts from the performance on stage. It’s an inspired and more than perfect setting for the man also known as Joshua Tillman to present his fifth and latest album as Father John Misty, Chloe and the New 20th Century, which was released last Friday, which brings him together with the kind of big band musicians who used to regularly play this stage. (Read diversity‘s review of the album here.)
Although no one wore tuxedos, he still made full use of the concept: about 15 musicians were spread across the stage and beyond, with guitarists, keyboardists and a rhythm section backed by horns, a string quartet and even a timpani. The group played the entire album in order to a full red velvet curtain that spanned the entire side of the room, with huge old film spotlights aimed at the crowd and set off at the sides.
Midway through the early set, the word “curtains” was heard on a stagehand’s walkie-talkie, and as if on cue, the curtains opened to reveal the cloud-shrouded Manhattan skyline at dusk; Many spectators left their hard-earned seats to enjoy the view. But due to the low stage and sunken dance floor, the best vantage point was at the very back on the elevated area, where one could enjoy the view, the chandeliers, the lights and the show simultaneously and even revealing other musicians who were close-up out of view ( and the polite ushers didn’t shoo you off the stairs).
Actually, Father John’s current look – a close-cropped crew cut and a bushy beard, along with a woman’s bat and a pretty blue suit jacket – was the only thing that deviated from the elegant theme, but hey, formal attire would have been it clear. In fact, the show offered few musical surprises—although the fact that Father John Misty was releasing a big band album was a surprise enough in itself. He punctuated the set with his characteristically lengthy and non-linear banter between songs, at least three references to shrimp cocktails, and a strange tale of how his bungalow in the Hollywood Hills was formerly occupied by Val Kilmer while he was filming. Batman” in the mid-1990s, and somehow that spirit permeated one of the album’s songs, “Q4.”
Oddly enough, the musicians entered the stage by walking through the crowd – accompanied of course by flashlight-wielding security guards – which put them in an awkward position when they had finished the album and it was time to play an encore, or not. After thanking the crowd for the “exuberant and consistent album experience” – which can be disappointing with less appropriate material – Father John recognized the situation and called the musicians, who made their way back from the stage, and listened while the crowd chanted Bitten (side note: whoever’s still yelling “Free Bird” after all these decades deserves a lifetime ban from all concerts).
The overwhelming consensus was for the title track of his 2015 album I Love You, Honey Bear, and he committed with a version that delighted the crown; The addition of the strings and horns made for a lush extended arrangement and raises hopes for other songs in his catalog that could receive similar treatment when he tours in earnest later this year.
Not that anyone left this show disappointed. “Chloe and the Next 20th Century” at the Rainbow Room fits together so perfectly that just being there feels like dining at the Ritz.
https://variety.com/2022/music/reviews/father-john-misty-rainbow-room-concert-review-1235233332/ Father John Misty in New York’s Rainbow Room: Concert Report