John Butler Trio at the Fox Theatre, 6-5-14 (photos, review)By Candace Horgan | June 6th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
It’s always a treat to see a musician of Butler’s stature in an intimate venue like Boulder’s Fox Theatre. The show was sold out, but the venue didn’t feel too packed-in or oversold.
Butler himself seemed to enjoy playing to the smaller crowd, talking about how when the John Butler Trio had first come to the U.S. from Australia 10 years ago, they would play venues like the Fox to an almost empty crowd, but that it now felt like they had family all over the world.
Butler also played to the crowd’s sensibilities on numerous occasions, whether it was talking about confronting a government official in an airport in Australia who supported a fracking project that Butler opposed, saying that he’d seen the most stoned person he’d ever seen in his life earlier in Boulder, or asking the crowd whether Boulder had the densest collection of Subaru Outbacks in the world. Butler then got a roar of approval when he said he owned an Outback also.
Butler and his bandmates, bassist Byron Luiters and drummer Grant Gerathy, are touring in support of a new album, “Flesh and Blood,” and much of the material from their two-hour set came from that record. Many in the crowd seemed to know the songs, something Butler acknowledged when he said, “You guys are very sweet. You’re singing with all the new stuff.”
Butler is an amazing guitarist, and while most of the set was played on his custom 11-string Maton guitar run through a Marshal amp and Fender amp to give it a distorted sound, Butler also played a couple of electrics, including a Fender Telecaster. Butler also frequently stretched out the intros and solos over the course of the night.
“I’d Do Anything” got a long, almost dreamlike intro, with Butler fingerpicking to great effect, while “Hoe Down” showcased Butler on banjo alternating between folk playing and a country stomp.
While much of the new material was strong, including “Wings Are Wide” and the new single, “Only One,” it was Butler’s solo opus “Ocean” from his first album that was the highlight of the night. Many in the crowd had their cell phones out video recording what is always a jaw-dropping exhibition of guitar playing.
Butler and the Trio ended their set with “Zebra” before returning for a three-song encore that kicked off with Butler’s tender tribute to his kids, “Peaches and Cream,” and ended with a rollicking, frenzied take on “Funky Tonight.”
It will be interesting to see how the energy of Red Rocks changes Butler’s approach tonight. Butler promised to be less scattered, though that was perhaps part of the charm of seeing him at the Fox.
Used to Get High
Wings Are Wide
I’d Do Anything
Blame it on Me
Don’t Wanna See Your Face
How You Sleep
Peaches and Cream
Living in the City
Glenn Ross is a Denver-based photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work here.