Live Review: John Butler Trio – O2 Academy, Glasgow – 26/04/14

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As the lights dim behind draped curtains, Glasgow’s O2 Academy begins to surge with excitement. But there’s no flashy entrance here, instead three rugged and casual musicians take their place on stage and begin to jam… but, then again, John Butler Trio need no introduction.

Despite more than a decade in the business, there’s a special intimacy with the Australian trio’s performance. Perhaps they have nothing to prove, or perhaps the world hasn’t quite caught up with their unique brand of funk. But that doesn’t matter tonight.

What matters is the 17-song medley of their best loved hits, spanning six studio albums, which is about to ensue.

Revolution’ begins to resonate around the packed lower level of the venue, as John Butler’s silky vocals whisper down the mic. As the song erupts with Grant Gerathy trickling over the drums and Byron Luiters plucks his bass, their stripped back entrance seems more fitting than ever.

With a set list that bleeds together so perfectly, it’s only when John Butler takes an unexpected break from his 12-string guitar that the 1700 strong congregation realise he hasn’t greeted them to his altar. But a simple “uh… hello” suffices and the band break into fluttering track ‘Spring to Come’ from 2014’s ‘Flesh and Blood’ album.

A lightning-fast guitar change and suddenly, banjo in hand, a good ol’ fashioned Hoe Down ensues. Feet are stomped, knees are slapped and notions that John Butler Trio are anything but purveyors of their instruments are shattered.

An eclectic mix of lesser known tracks weave around best known tunes like ‘Better Than’ and ‘Zebra’, with anthemic hit ‘Funky Tonight’ playing out their encore.

No one leaves the venue wanting, but then a John Butler Trio gig is more like a guitar clinic, with just three guys having a jam as though in their garage. It’s this modest simplicity that has earned them gold records galore and a legion of fans across the globe. This isn’t a show, it’s showmanship.

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