John Butler Trio at Terminal 5 – New York, NY

John Butler TrioFrom saving oceans to his native lands, you’d think this Aussie rocker has no time to save roots music—but he does. John Butler for president? I think so.

JBT pulled threads from its ever-evolving discography, weaving together a set of jam band eclecticism. Opener “One Way Road” set the mood of the night with that “feel good” music off their recent April Uprising. From the Bob Marley-influenced “Groovin’ Slowly” to “Used to Get High,” fans fell under JBT’s influence of Utopian bliss. Funky-blues “Zebra” provoked fans to mirror the assorted arrangement of scat singing, spoons and hand claps as did the 15-minute rendition of “Funky Tonight,” with percussionist Nicky Bomba tantalizing the shit out of the skins. “Better Than” shared that same self-promoting notion the Grass Roots had with “Let’s Live For Today,” while “Daniella,” and “Close to You” (featuring Butler’s wife) revealed hints of selfless love.

Although his lyrics are prophetic and political, sometimes the multi-rhythmic instrumentalism suffices. “Oceans” has a unique relationship with Butler: “It stirs a deep element inside, I don’t know what it is, but I’m a channel for it. I named the song for its infinite power, sense of wonder, and melancholic sense. I often have grown men come up to me and say, ‘What the fuck did you do to me? You made me cry.’”

Whatever your mood, origin or interests, JBT has the ability to capture audiences; whether you know the songs or not. All you have to do is allow your subconscious to gravitate towards the sound and life is good.

—Melissa Caruso

Photo credit: Polly Armstrong

Got something to say?