Relentless Garage, London
Butch Walker is a bit of a cult enigma over here. The American producer/songwriter is in the UK with his band of similarly talented musicians to support P!nk and play a few dates of his own. With five studio albums under his belt (not all of which have actually been released in the UK), Butch Walker is certainly a well-established act in his own right, yet he is perhaps known better for the work he’s done with others including songwriting credits for Avril Lavigne, Hot Hot Heat, Weezer, Fall Out Boy and All American Rejects. He’s also produced records by P!nk, Plasticines, The Academy Is, All Time Low and Katy Perry to name but a few!
But that’s not what it’s about tonight. His body of work proves that Walker has a way with melody and he opens this show up with the simplest of formats, taking to the stage and settling down at a keyboard. Despite his expertise, the first song falters as it seems that it’s totally escaped his memory. This can certainly be forgiven though, as the man goes on to play for almost two hours straight. That’s a lot to remember! Moving on from his fuck-up, Walker jokes with the crowd and proceeds to roll out some simply beautiful songs solo.
Walker’s band The Black Widows make their entrance after the intro which sees Walker bond strongly with the audience who hang on his every word and lyric (there are some HARDCORE fans out there). Each and every member of the band makes a flawless contribution to the musical arrangements and the material from latest album ‘I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart’ in particular comes across with a perfect bittersweet feel. Walker may be centre stage but the way the musicians interact on stage makes this more than solely a ‘Butch Walker show’.
‘Best Thing You Never Had’ is the perfect demonstration of this as each and every member of the band sings their own part of the lead vocal with equal finesse. It’s a varied and engaging set with a comforting balance of joking around and sheer brilliance. A snippet of Pulp’s ‘Common People’ comes out at one point with a rather overly pronounced English accent over the top and there’s also some sort of Christmas song interlude as Walker goes with the flow and picks up on nuances in the crowd’s reactions and in what sound the band are creating. Despite a largely melancholic feel in the music, Butch certainly knows how to rock out and even with an acoustic guitar in hand, he’s jumping on the drumkit and dropping to his knees. There’s a lot of talent on stage and the audience is in awe of it.