Some dreams take a while to come true. Catching John Butler Trio live took me FOUR YEARS! But last Friday night, wait ... was it all just a dream???
Friday night at Oakland's revamped Fox Theatre, my first time there, and what an incredible venue it is, beats the Zellerbach or Warfield in Bay Area. Just the sheer amount of BARS makes for a great time! So first off, the opening act, solo guitarist ... he plays BLACK with a Line 6 Loop station accompanying him! That got a good holler from me and a bunch of others! Really nice version ... if you liked the 2010 Bridge version!
Quick trip to that bar 10 steps away and I'm back in business, set up directly center on the 2nd tier of the floor (it kinda cascades down to the stage in 4-5 tiers, so plenty of good places, good sight lines!)
And out comes JBT with some huge smoking hunk ... of something. Probably sage or incense, but could have been a MAGNIFICENT spliff! And he's got that awesome 13-string guitar, running through that Marshall stack. That's what I love about JBT, that freaking sound he gets running an acoustic through a Marshall! The acoustic picks up, reverberates, reinforces the sound coming outta the marshall in just this incredible way -- guitar feedback literally plays itself in some ways! Frippertronics on an acoustic!
Sounds fantastic, and again, Bay Area, no need for dry ice, fog machines or nuthin ... the place just FILLS with smoke in a few songs. EVERYONE around me tokin' out. If a cop had pulled ANYONE over after that show, you were off to jail for the smell on your clothes alone! But hey, this is California, no worries!
I don't have his new album yet, it's under the xmas tree right now, but a bit disappointed that my fav song wasn't played, he picked lightly from his first album which is my favorite. But the other songs and new stuff was all fun and funky! AFter about an hour of songs, he puts in a 10-15 minute long acoustic guitar solo -- fretboard tapping, loops and delays, body tapping, very atmospheric! VERY SPACY! Very awesome!
About 30 minutes later, here's a drum solo, and the drummer gets out from behind his kit and starts drumming on mics, amps, the stage floor, walks over and picks up a marching band snare, straps it on, and there's John and the bass player with drums strapped on. Off they all march as the drum solo fades ... but no, here they come out of the wings DIRECTLY AT ME!
They march up right next to me, we all sit down in a HUGE drum circle and it just keeps going. We do some call and response singing and shouting, total fun for another 5 minutes. And there's the WHOLE BAND just sitting RIGHT THERE next to me, right in the middle of the audience! Too fun! John is smiling and laughing with us all, just letting the drummer lead the antics. Hilarious fun!
More songs, more drums, big 3-man drum battle to finish out the show. Thanks to all the crew and what not as it's the last stop on their North American tour, they're headed back to Australia. Last concert, oh yeah TWO AND HALF HOURS LONG they played!
I can't even begin to recall what all they played, but they hit Peaches and Cream for me and Treat Your Mama With Respect. What a showman! What a musician! What an amazing good vibe he created. Got to see Jack Johnson earlier this year and that was definitely a surfer kick-back vibe, dunno, JBT is kinda some funk-rasta kick-back vibe. Don't get me wrong, he's freakin rockin, but the whole vibe was heavy on the rasta! OOooooh my!
So totally worth the wait, year's past he's played some short sets at big festivals around here, and I missed one small venue gig last year or so -- had no clue I was catching this tour's final show! BUT SO GLAD I DID!
Amazing concert to close out 2010 for me! Catch JBT when you can!