On Saturday night we walked to Mount Victoria to go the Front Room to see the John Butler Trio play.
State the obvious time: John Butler Trio, or JBT, are an Australian band with three members, led by John Butler. They’ve been around since 1998, but only became really popular in 2001 with the release of their second album.
We’d arrived at the venue early as, despite repeated attempts to reach them on the telephone, there was no answer, and so we didn’t have any idea what time the band would be on stage. Given New Zealanders’ penchant for an early night (there’s a famous (-ish) quote about a commentator once commentating “this party could go on past 11 o’clock!”) we didn’t want to turn up fashionably late and find that we’d missed half the show (this happened to me once when I went to see The Band So Good They Named It Twice – by the time I got there, the support act, Goldfrapp, had been and gone). The venue was filling up quickly though, as people staked their places on the coveted balcony spots and at the front in the mosh pit.
Our fears proved unfounded and we had a bit of a wait until the support band, Mama Kin, came on and gave us a 45 minute set. Mama Kin is fronted by Danielle Caruana, who happens to be married to John Butler. The rest of her band is her two older brothers…one of whom is also the drummer in…you guessed it, the John Butler Trio! All a bit incestuous.
Around 9:30pm the main act came on, and they gave a rip-roaring set that lasted until midnight. They played all their well-known songs (at least, the crowd seemed to know them) including a twenty-minute rendition of Ocean, a song from their first album. The music covers a range of styles but is mostly characterised by John Butler’s virtuoso guitar (and banjo) playing. He took it all too far…but boy, could he play guitar.
As always seems to be the case when we go out in Wellington, we met someone that we knew – but in this case we had actually been forewarned, as it was one of my colleagues who I knew would be at the gig. Still, we managed to spot them in a crowd of around 1,000.
At around midnight, and after a three-song encore including Ocean, we finally left the venue. We managed to get a taxi straight away, so were home in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Now I’m off to buy some JBT CDs!