Reviews – John Butler Trio @ Festival Hall 17/09/2010

This concert review was published in Inpress on 24/09/2010.

John Butler always dreamed of playing at Festival Hall, a venue he passed many times while visiting family in Melbourne. On this particular night, his wish was granted.

Melbourne ten-piece urban roots outfit Blue King Brown warmed up the crowd for a relaxed Friday night out. Led by Natalie Pa’apa’a’s tranquil vocals, their performance was an upbeat eclectic mix of rap, hip-hop, reggae and afro-beats.

In between acts, key figures from the Save The Kimberley campaign, including Albert Wiggan and Joe Roe, took to the stage to inform the audience of how they can assist in the campaign. John Butler’s support for it, is just one of the many examples of his affection for social and environmental awareness.

Performing for an epic two-and-a-half hours, The John Butler Trio – Butler, minus the dreadlocks (guitar/vocals) and new-found members Nicky Bomba (drums) and Byron Luiters (bass) – performed an energetic set showcasing tracks from all of their albums, including the recently released, April Uprising.

Illuminated Photograph by Lillian Altman

The crowd, surprisingly full of baby boomers, was so settled throughout the night that Butler fired them up by saying, “Let yourself get so loose you lose your pants,” before launching into the fast-paced folk rocker C’mon Now.

Various Blue King Brown members joined the boys on stage for a cover of Kev Carmody’s Though Shalt Not Steal, transitioning into a mesmerising 15-minute solo by Butler that was so intriguing, it took a while to realise that Bomba, Luiters and co. had left the stage.

The half-hour encore was, by far, the highlight of the night. The trio performed with one of Butler’s idols, Jeff Lang. But the performance didn’t stop there. Peaches and Cream, a song Butler wrote when his wife was in labour with their first child daughter, Banjo was next. As silence fell upon the crowd, the audience sang the chorus; “All I Know Is / All I Know Is / I Love You / Yes I Love You.” Revolution, One Way Road and Funky Tonight were also played. It didn’t stop there. At one point, Butler left the stage to allow Bomba and Luiters to play a solo as he watched from side stage. He returned to the stage armed with a pair of drumsticks for a three-way drum solo.

Three-way drumming solo Photograph by Lillian Altman

At the conclusion of the performance, Butler sincerely thanked the crowd for a sell out show.

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