Gig Review – John Butler Trio – De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill

As you’re no doubt already aware, we don’t normally publish gig reviews of acts from outside of our local catchment area, but this is an exception.

We are currently having a few issues with The Stinger’s website, so to save delaying posting this review any longer, I decided to share it here.

So, without further ado, here’s my review of the John Butler Trio playing at De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, on Saturday 15th August 2015:

I’m sure the reaction of many friends of those attending last night’s John Butler Trio gig at the De La Warr Pavilion, in Bexhill, when told who they were going to see, was “Who?”

It’s fair to say that the Australian band aren’t very well known in the UK, but it did mean that just about everybody in the sizable audience were there for the right reasons. This was an audience of fans and fanatics, a fact borne out by this being one of the most enthusiastic audiences I’ve ever come across.

Preaching to the converted maybe, but to a relative newcomer to the delights the John Butler Trio like myself, this was a performance that showed exactly why those fans were here and why they are so enthusiastic.

For the uninitiated, the John Butler Trio play a rootsy musical melting pot of styles and genres, from rock to folk, with stops at reggae, funk, blues and more along the way. Formed in Western Australian in 1998, they are currently touring to support their sixth studio album “Flesh and Blood”, which was released last year.

John Butler himself is a virtuoso guitarist and banjo player, something he displayed to great effect during the two hour show. He was very ably assisted by fellow band members Grant Gerathy (drums, vocals and percussion) and Byron Kuiters (bass, double bass, vocals and keyboards).

I did hear a comment when leaving the gig afterwards saying that “he did drag the songs out a bit”. A fair point maybe, but when you have the musical ability of these guys and many of the songs in the set build in intensity and then maintain that for those extra minutes, as these did, that is forgivable and I don’t think many were complaining about that.

In fact, intensity is the one word I would use to sum up this gig. There may not have been a genuine hit single in sight, but that didn’t stop this, admittedly, biased crowd singing and dancing along throughout, and the band playing their hearts out as well.

John Butler is very much a musician’s musician and songwriter and he attracted a fair sprinkling of fellow players to this gig. His solo, acoustic rendition of “Ocean”, which lasted over 10 minutes, was just one shining example of why he is so well respected in the musical community. Just search on YouTube for a great video performance of the song.

A quick mention should also be made of the excellent lighting during the show and also the fact that this was standing gig, downstairs at least, something that always seems to add an extra level of atmosphere to a gig. Every little helps.

As an Australian friend of mine commented on my Facebook post, stating that I was at the gig, I was very lucky to see the John Butler Trio in Bexhill. I think that is a sentiment shared by everyone who was fortunate enough to have been present at the De La Warr Pavilion on Saturday evening.

Well done to the De La Warr also, for booking relatively unknown acts such as the John Butler Trio, and possibly taking a chance in doing so too. It certainly proved well worth while on this occasion and will no doubt do so in the future as well. Build it and they will come.

Andy Gunton

First Impressions Last

I’m in the lucky position of being a DJ on two local radio stations, Hastings Rock and Carnival FM, both of which only broadcast for a limited period every year. It’s something that I love doing.

A lot of what I play on both of those stations is new music and usually locally sourced as well. This has put me onto the radar for original bands from across the UK and even further afield too, especially because of Hastings Rock.

It’s a nice position to me in and I’m certainly not complaining about that, as I get to hear new music from all over, a lot of it very good. But there is one frustrating aspect to this and an example happened again today.

I get regular emails and the occasional phone call from bands and PR companies etc because my contact details are on the Hastings Rock website. But that website also clearly states the broadcast dates for the radio station, in fact that information is on the Home page, whereas those contact details aren’t.

So when I get an email, or a phone call as happened today, asking if I can play a particular new act as they have a new track being released, or interview the PR companies new rising stars on my show because they are playing a gig near Hastings in the near future, you’d think they would have checked to see whether the radio station was actually on the air at the time wouldn’t you?

While it is easier to forgive the sending of a blanket email, which is probably sent to radio stations and DJ’s across the UK, receiving a personal phone call from somebody representing a band is another thing entirely.

I know it is only a minor inconvenience for me, but doing a bit of basic research before you contact somebody you’re hoping to get interested in your band isn’t a bad idea. Especially when the relevant information is so readily available.

If you’re in a band, wherever you’re based, and you’re after airplay on a particular radio station or show, or you’re looking to be interviewed about that upcoming gig in a new town, then do your research first.

If you don’t do that initial research and you fail to notice that the radio station isn’t on the air, or you get the name of the station or DJ wrong, or you send a Rock track to a Jazz station, etc etc, you are not going to make a very good impression.

If you don’t get the basics right, the person or station you’ve contacted are going to be far less likely to give you the chance you’re looking for.

A person I used to work with once said to me, “first impressions last”. It’s something I’ve always tried to remember myself and I now know exactly what they meant.

Sometimes you only get one shot at making the right impression. So why not make sure you get it right?

Andy Gunton.