It was exactly a year to the day that I arrived in the city of Vancouver from Ireland, and what better way to celebrate this occasion than to head to the famous Commodore Ballroom to see indie rock musicians Fr. John Misty and The Walkmen perform live to a sold out audience, with a few of the very awesome friends I had made since moving here. I had the good fortune of getting to see Misty perform live during his last trip to Vancouver, when he played at the Vogue last September. I had not given him much notice before that but it certainly did not take very long for his enchanting music to grow on me in the months that followed. I must admit, however, I had never listened to or seen The Walkmen perform live, but from my friend’s anticipation at getting to see them, I was looking forward to discovering for myself what they were like.
On arrival to the venue, my companions and I made our way to the bar and ordered ourselves a beer each before making our way through the thick crowd that had gathered before the stage. The pre-show buzz was most definitely apparent and those around us chattered loudly and happily to one another.
Before we knew it, the lights dimmed and an excited roar rose from those around us as Misty casually walked out on stage and held an arm up in salute to his followers. Dressed in simple attire, the heavenly man himself wore an off white cotton shirt beneath a light beige suit. Long hair and a thick beard gave Misty the appearance of a man a bit older than his 31 years. As the rugged singer/songwriter launched into his first song of the night, I made my way to the front of the stage and snapped as many photos as I could manage for the first three songs. I would catch myself stalling every now and then as I became captivated with Misty’s haunting voice – the man was born to perform live.
The show that followed featured songs that were mostly taken from his most recent album, Fear Fun – the first album of eight to be released under the Father John Misty name. Songs which had us swaying and singing along included “Nancy From Now On”, “This Is Sally Hatchet” and “Only Son Of The Ladiesman”. As I made my way back to my friends, one of them turned to me and enthusiastically exclaimed “He’s quite a dancer!” I happily concurred as our attention returned to the stage. Towards the end of the set, I became more and more excited to hear my own personal favourite song “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”. As the intro started up and Fr. John began to shake a tambourine and his hips from side to side, I turned to my friend and screamed so loudly in his ear, I am pretty sure I gave him an earache.
Further to Fr. John Misty’s departure from the stage, I was half-prepared to lose interest in the night following such an outstanding performance, but as The Walkmen assembled themselves on stage and tore into their set I soon happily realized I had been far too closed minded!
The energetic band, from Washington but based in New York City, performed songs as “The Rat”, “Line by Line” and of course, title track from their new album “Heaven”. Despite the late hour on a school night, the energy emanating from the stage and from the audience was contagious and, even though I did not know the words to any of the songs which they played, I couldn’t help but dance along to the music.
I was a little surprised upon hearing that the band were American – if I was to guess, I would have said that theirs was quite a British indie sound and lead singer Hamilton Leithauser struck me as having a voice quite similar to Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, minus the thick Sheffield accent.
I can honestly say that in the time since I saw them perform live last Monday night, I have been listening to more of The Walkmen’s material and just as the case had been with Fr. John Misty, they too are growing on me. I have a feeling that should the band venture back to Vancouver in the near future, I will be straight online booking my ticket to go see them again.