Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

  • Music:

John Butler Trio.

last night i went and saw the john butler trio play at the enmore theatre.

the enmore, for those not local, and those who are, had a particular smell to it last night. it wasn't noticeable when you first walked through the door, but rather when you sat down on the carpet, which you then noticed was damp, and the smell of damp carpet followed. if you jam two hundred odd people in at the front of the venue, all jumping around on the carpet, you'll discover that the smell of damp carpet will become somewhat powerful after a certain amount of time. But then, like the alleged rumours of people who don't bathe for a period, the smell went because i either a) became used to it, or b) it was jumped out.

that's all i have to really say about the enmore theatre.

the john butler trio feel like they've been touring constantly for a good five, maybe more years. (it is reported that butler began as busker in 1996, so maybe you can say that it's continual touring since then.) whatever the time frame, they've developed a strong on stage presence, and in a gig that lasts two and a half hours, they never slip, never drop out of synch with each other, and grow stronger as their set continues. there was, in fact, a time towards the end that, after one song, it was asked how they'd be able to top that. (the song in question ended with a the continual picking up speed of a simple beat until it began to turn into a musical wail.) the answer to that question was that they simply went to the next song, and continued to play.

the john butler trio have a vein of politics running through their music, and it's a conservationist, left wing kind of politics--so if that's not your kind of thing, then their music isn't going to be for you. however, i like it. butler's lyrics are tightly controlled, and never lapse into anything as trite as 'hurting trees is bad'. if you've the time to download a few tunes, 'Life Ain't What it Seems', 'Earthbound Child', and 'Home is Where the Heart Is' are good places to start. they're fairly small, considering that the trio likes to do songs that go on for fifteen minutes, stretching out the music, and improvising during their act. there should be versions of 'Money' and 'Don't Understand' that are floating around, which'll demonstrate this to you.

in fact, the john butler trio's love of improvisation and music was shown in their encore, which went for around twenty minutes, featured no lyrics, and at one stage involved the opening act coming out onto stage to act as percussion as the john butler trio pulled out bongos, and a big hawaiian drum, and began a number with them.

as you can probably see, i reckoned that the john butler trio were a superb live act. they've a good reputation, but they exceed it, due to the fact that somewhere along in their show, their love of the music they're playing (and making) infuses the crowd. you just get caught up in it. butler's vocals, while important, are not the star of the show--they drop out for anywhere from five minutes a time or the twenty minute piece at the end, while they play, and it is this side of the music that infuses you.

they are, i say, entirely worth watching. i'll be back when they pass this way again.

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