Having lived in Western Australia (AKA the home of John Butler) for two years, you’d have thought I’d have taken the opportunity to see one of the many gigs that he and his crew put on around the state. Butler is renowned for his unique performances, blowing minds with his prodigious musical talent at everything from sellout festivals to small intimate gigs in Australian bush communities. But alas, the Aussie laid-back attitude must have infected me, as it seems I got so horizontal… I forgot to go and see the great man.
So now, after a four-year break, The John Butler Trio are back on tour and tonight I see them in… nope, not sunny Australia, but Glasgow. Rainy, rainy Glasgow. Still, at least there’re no sharks in Scotland. JBT are touring with their much-anticipated new album, Home. Released earlier this month, it hasn’t disappointed their loyal fanbase; mine and many other’s favourite track being Just Call. A characteristically beautiful song with an equally beautiful yet simple video to accompany it.
And it doesn’t take long for frontman Butler to treat the northern crowd to this delight tonight. The first chords are instantly recognisable and get a huge cheer, which is impressive for a song that has only recently been released. As well as playing his new tunes, Butler makes sure to feature plenty of his classics… how he plays a 12-string guitar at that speed, well at any speed, is beyond me. If you’ve never seen him live, it’s worth watching Ocean to get an idea of what I’m talking about. Why he quit University to become a busker now suddenly makes sense to me… I might not mention that career trajectory to my daughters though.
The tight bond between the band is apparent when they play an obviously emotional song for Butler. I hate to admit that I don’t recognise it, but the band members adoring eyes are fixed on him, almost as if they are making sure he is okay. As the song finishes, there is a group acknowledgement, and then a beautiful moment as Butler addresses the crowd with slightly blurry eyes, stating that “some songs just get ya”.
Butler may not have the long, flowing dreadlocks that he had when I first discovered him back in my Australia days, but he still has the charm and freakish musical gifts of the man that earned him pride of place as the soundtrack to my outback adventures.
To catch John Butler Trio on their 2018 tour, check out the band’s website.
Photographs by John Harfield