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Taken from NZ Herald (Mar 31, 2018)

Review: John Butler shines on Good Friday

by Mark Story

John Butler, front man for The John Butler Trio, gave a masterclass at Church Rd Winery, writes Mark Story. Photo Duncan Brown.

Aussie sensation The John Butler Trio landed at Church Road Winery on a stunning autumn afternoon – bettered only by a full moon that rose north-east above the winery.

The scene was set.

Front man John Butler took casually to the stage and the crowd - most of whom had been sitting for the undercards - roared to reflect the anticipation of the top billing.

Surprisingly, the John Butler Trio materialised on stage as the John Butler Quintet. But who's counting?

Certainly no one was complaining.

Butler's casual but accomplished timbre soon had everyone swaying. Here's a man completely in charge of his vocals and guitar.

Slap percussion groove, sliding, bending – stunning. 'Tis a rare thing when a front man's vocals are as accomplished as his guitar gift.

Known loosely as an Australian roots band, their evening performance was punctuated with notes of Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, bluegrass and cajun.

Just in case his political views weren't already known, between songs Butler peppered the crowd with his anti-war, environmental and social commentary, and tipped his hat to the privilege of playing on "indigenous Maori land".

The crowd battled the night's crisp chill with dancing which, as it tends to do, increased in audacity under the influence of darkness, vino and the frequent whiff of something illicit.

Concertgoers, mostly consisting of those aged 20 and upwards, (mercifully not downwards) were loving everything bar the 30-minute queue for drinks; the only frayed tempers at the gig were in that long line.

The band's hits remained crowd favourites and included Better Than, together with Living in the City and Ocean - Butler's epic, incandescent instrumental. The popular Zebra was left as a fitting finale.

My one complaint was the seemingly compressed set, which ran from about 8.30pm to just after 10pm. A stage tenure of 90mins (albeit without a break) was a tad brief for fans. And maybe that explains the absence of the hit Bullet Girl.

Strangely though I didn't feel ripped off – instead feeling like I wanted more – which is how everyone should feel leaving such a polished act.

This was a masterclass in musicality and an inspirational piece of soul-shine on a Good Friday.


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