Butch Walker brought that Friday night feeling to a Wednesday at the House of Blues Chicago with a fantastic high energy performance.
Butch Walker is a man who wears many hats. He is as well known for his work as a producer as he is as a musician in his own right – which is no mean feat. However, when you go to one of his live shows you are left feeling that it is on the stage, in front of a live audience where he feels most at home. “You’re my therapy Chicago,” he tells the House of Blues crowd a third of the way through the set. It’s fair to say that for the majority of the audience the feeling was mutual.
Walker’s shows have a very familial feel about them and it’s testament to him as a performer and artist that he generates this kind of atmosphere. Whether he is bouncing around the stage with the band chocking out power chords, ripping through solos and singing at the top of his voice or perched alone on a stool with an acoustic guitar in the middle of the audience, there is always that feeling of “we’re all in this together.” It’s really something to experience and it’s why, once people have had a taste of it, they will always come back for more.
In a recent Instagram post before the final date of this current run in Minneapolis, Walker alluded to the fact that he feels change is what he believes has kept him going since he started writing and performing over thirty years ago. He has certainly never stopped evolving throughout his career and whilst some might like to have seen Marvelous 3 stick together and keep doing what they were doing, it feels like the majority of Walker’s fans are whole-heartedly with him for the journey. And why wouldn’t they be?! It’s much more exciting to not know what’s coming next. Indeed, just look at Walker’s last three albums; there’s a great rock and roll album in The Spade, the contemplative and emotionally raw Afraid of Ghosts followed by the celebratory Stay Gold. As this tour comes to a close, fans should have good reason to be excited about what he has up his sleeve for the next album.
On the night in Chicago, nobody could have left the venue feeling short-changed. From the opening chords of “Uncomfortably Numb” through to a breathless “Hot Girls in Good Moods,” it was party time in Chicago. The set spanned a good deal of Walker’s career and had some Bowie, Brian Adams, The Who and Dexy’s Midnight Runners fun thrown in for good measure. Walker was a magnetic presence throughout, taking time to tell stories and connect with the audience between songs and jumping down into the audience to perform at one stage while videoing himself on one lucky fan’s smartphone.
No matter how good the artist and the songs, you must have a great band behind them to help make a live performance magic. The band that Walker tours with certainly do deliver on that front. Mark Stepro, Todd Stopera, Whynot Jansveld, and Christopher Wray have toured with Butch Walker for some time now and they are a well-oiled machine live – expertly adding color and allowing Walker to take the show where he wants it to go. They also look like a group of great friends who are having just as much fun as the audience throughout the show.
With the audience and the band exhausted and covered in sweat, Walker headed out alone to a stool in the crowd and finished off with a trio of acoustic songs; “Don’t Move,” “Cigarette Lighter Love Song” (by Marvelous 3) and “Record Store” which he dedicated to his father. It was the perfect way to ease into the come down as the adrenaline began to subside.
Unfortunately, there is only one show remaining on the current tour (at Varsity Theatre in Minneapolis tonight). If you can still grab a ticket, then you should definitely do so. You’ll forget all about those Sunday night blues by the end of the first song. Just don’t blame us for the Monday morning hangover…….
Words By: Phil Walton
Photos By: Kirstine Walton