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>JBT at the MA (T – 7)

12 April, 2010 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  James Brown – Live at the Apollo

A busy few days, what with Son No 2 staying over, cat and tree issues and a host of other stuff going on.

So where to start?

Well, let’s start with the football.  No, not the professional stuff, the real grass roots stuff.  Matt and I went along to see my nephew, Ross (11) playing for his team, Vauxhall, against Heswall.  Now Ross has always been a good little footballer, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen him play and I have to say that he and his team have come on in leaps and bounds as they’ve grown up.  Quite a few of the kids are on the books of some professional clubs as well as playing for Vauxhall, and it shows.  Their ball control is superb, as is their ability to spot (if not always find) a decent pass.  After a cagey first fifteen minutes or so, they gradually got a grip on the game, eventually winning 5-0 with Ross scoring the fourth.

On Saturday, Matt and I went into Manchester for a bit of shopping and eating, and then to the Academy to see the John Butler Trio.  A full review will appear soon on The Really Hip Art Scene (now here), when Matt gets round to it, and I’ll add my two pennorth on the Word website later today (also now up and running).  In brief, however, it was a great, lengthy (two and a half hours!) set from a band who are totally in control of their instruments and who have a decent set of tunes to work from.  A lot rockier than last time I saw them, reflecting the style of the new album, they still found time for two (count ’em!) drum solos, a (slightly reluctant) bass solo and a lot of audience singingalonging.

Here’s a clip of John performing ‘Ocean’ – one of the most beautiful – and technically challenging – guitar pieces you are ever likely to hear.

I struggle to work out just what sort of audience John Butler has in the UK.  They are massive in his native Australia, of course, but in the UK is profile – on the face of it – seems quite low.  I don’t recall the band getting any measurable coverage in the music press, for example.  And yet – both times I’ve seen them in concert – they’ve had a sell-out audience that has been, if not fanatical, very vocal in its appreciation of the band and its music.

As for Saturday’s audience, well I suspect Matt will have his own views on this, but I thought they were for the most part, engaged, good-natured and high-spirited.  I did have the misfortune to be stood behind Mister Floppy Head, however – possibly the most ill-coordinated and arrhythmic dancer I have ever come across.  Dancing to whatever he was hearing in his own head, it bore no relationship to the beats being generated on stage at all.  In fact, I would hazard that it was actually harder for him to dance the way he was than to actually follow the beats of the songs.  Sadly, I also think there was no chemical enhancement involved either – perhaps there needed to be.

Still, a great night out.  If you get the chance to see (or hear) the John Butler Trio – you should.  Special mention for support act ‘The Boy Who Trapped The Sun’ as well – one man, two guitars, a lady cellist and a bottle of red wine.  And some lovely songs (that you can find on iTunes).  Well worthy of your attention.

In other news, we took in a few films over the last few days as well.  Pride of place goes to Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, which we enjoyed hugely.  I am told that Law Abiding Citizen was also most entertaining, although I wouldn’t know as I fell asleep halfway through, victim of my nocturnal adventures trying to rescue the cat.  Finally 2012 was highly enjoyable tosh, mainly through seeing the special effects on the Big Telly rather than through any particular depth in the plot.

James Brown on the soundtrack today.  We’ve not done ‘ten best live albums’ on the blog yet, but if and when we do, Live at the Apollo will surely be there or thereabouts.  A great album that catches James at his most vibrant and soulful – the funk would come later.

Please Please Please – with the cape and the histrionics – Yeeeeou!

Categories: James Brown, John Butler, Matt, Ross

>John Butler Trio

23 September, 2007 Leave a comment

>So last Wednesday night it was off to the Carling in Liverpool to see the John Butler Trio, who were making a brief visit to the UK as part of the ‘Grand National’ tour. Makes Liverpool an obvious place to visit really (Grand National – Aintree – do you see? Ah well).

Can’t say I went into the gig as a massive fan. Son number 2 – generally an excellent judge of these things – saw them first at Glastonbury 2005, and had told me how good they were so I’d picked up a few CDs that I’d played intermittently but not really given them the attention they deserved. That said, I’d liked what I’d heard so was really looking forward to seeing the band up close.

Didn’t know what to expect in terms of the crowd – whilst they are relatively rare visitors to these shores, the trio don’t seem to be that high up the critical radar. Mind you, the country is crawling with expatriate Aussies, so maybe the ranks of visiting supporters would swell the ranks. As it was, the band were performing in the main Academy, which was probably 3/4 full of a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd. One or two Aussie twangs in evidence, but mostly home supporters of variable age and sex.

First up was Kaki King, an American guitaress playing solo. Technically she was absolutely fantastic, but it lacked a bit of passion for me – all a bit soulless. The crowd were polite but distant and the constant undercurrent of chatter didn’t help the music cut through. Nice support but don’t think I’ll be rushing down to Fopp anytime soon.

Anyway, check Kaki out at www.kakiking.com

To the strains of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’, the trio strolled out to a warm reception at around half eight. Then proceeded to play their socks off for the next two and a half hours – time that seemed to pass by in minutes. I can’t remember the last time I went to a concert that lasted that long – if you get an hour and a half from the headliner you seem to be doing well. The passion so missing from the support flowed out of every pore of the Trio, the quality of the musicianship was phenomenal and the sheer joy of being there, performing, was self-evident. The pacing of the show was spot on, and the time just flew by. Many highlights, including a passionate and flawless ‘Ocean’ played solo by JB. Oh, and we had a bass solo. And a drum solo. Involving the use of hands as well as drumsticks, a la Bonham circa 1975. There was a time (around 1977) when I would have sneered at the drum solo but I loved it.

I wish I could describe the music to you but it defies categorisation. ‘Roots’ is as near as I can get, with a hint of folk and reggae in there, but that sells it short. All I can suggest is that you hear the trio for yourself. Go to www.johnbutlertrio.com and listen/download. From there go to www.archive.org and download one of the many live shows that are there – JBT is one of those fine groups that encourage taping of live shows and there are many that you can (legally) download and enjoy.

And enjoy you will, I’m sure.

Categories: John Butler