John Butler Trio (JBT) was at the Sound Academy Saturday night bringing his Australian singer-songwriter wares. Playing a lap guitar to start the show using a slide, the instrument sounded more like a sitar than any type of guitar. John Butler meets somewhere between Ben Harper and Xavier Rudd. I did see a didgeridoo on stage but I don’t think it was played on this night. I could be wrong though as I was at the back of the venue after the photo call. I just don’t remember hearing it. The trio made up of John (guitar and vocals), Nicky Bomba on drums and Byron Luiters filling bass duties (and didgeridoo if played), had a rich sound despite their numbers.
Some politics did enter the show. JBT has some strong environmental views, especially concerning a piece of Australia known as the Kimberly. He likened what’s happening there (mining, deforestation), to Canada’s Oil Sands. I’m not much for causes being brought up at a show, but he got his point across quickly and dedicated the following song to it; “Ocean” which was a beautiful instrumental of just John finger picking the strings. At about 8 minutes long it built like a wave coming towards the beach, finally cresting and crashing in front of the audience. Receding back again until fading out. This, was probably the highlight moment of the night for me. Not because of the banter before the song but just that song itself. He had mentioned that it was a song he used to play back while busking on the streets of Australia. There seemed to be obligatory favorites played from that point, with “Revolution” and “Betterthan” having a considerable sing/dance along with them.
Between songs he guessed with disbelief at the word “Torontonians” describing the cities residents. A fan threw a Blue Jays hat on stage and huge roar erupted as John put it on his head. The encore saw three songs played including “Losing You” that brought opener Mama Kin out to add vocals.
There was nothing explosive or life changing about this show, but it was good fun and great music. Perfect after the previous two Saturdays I’ve had. It was nice to just relax and listen to some chill tunes.