Butch Walker & the Black Widows
opening for Train
Revolution Live, Ft. Lauderdale, FL • 03.04.10
By 8pm, the line of music fans patiently awaiting the kick-off performance of the Train/Butch Walker & the Black Widows tour stretched around Ft. Lauderdale’s Revolution Live nightclub and down the street for blocks. Enduring temperatures in the low forties — arctic by Florida standards, especially for early March — these fans were determined to fight the discomfort of the elements in order to enjoy an evening of music.
Sporting a black leather jacket over a red and black checked flannel shirt and white tank top with black denim jeans, Butch Walker hit the stage earlier than he’s probably used to. Pop music’s modern-day messiah could have easily doubled for Springsteen on the cover of Born to Run, and the reaction his songs inspired from the audience could recall a bit of old Springsteen fandom, as well.
From his guitar-slinging days in the pre-grunge-era hair band Southgang, to his post-grunge tenure fronting the power-pop trio Marvelous 3, to his solo career in the 2000s, Butch has built a loyal fan base the old-fashioned way, by touring. Over the last two decades, he has developed a reputation as a charismatic live performer, known for his uncanny ability to connect with his audience. And despite being billed as the show’s opening act, one wouldn’t have known it based on the crowd response, as fans chanted “Butch, Butch, Butch!” throughout the high-energy forty-five-minute set.
In addition to selections from his latest offering I Liked it Better When You Had No Heart, Butch’s set also included some of his best-known tunes from his previous records including, “The Weight of Her,” “Here Comes the..,” “Ponce de Leon Avenue,” “Uncomfortably Numb,” and “The Taste of Red.”
From show-stopping versions of such classics as Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” to current hits by the likes of country music sensation Taylor Swift, Butch has been known to include some rather amazing and often unlikely cover tunes in his live performances. “Taylor Swift was so two years ago,” Butch told his flock as he led his band into a brilliant remake of the 1977 Daryl Hall and John Oates #1 hit, “Rich Girl.”
Despite the good time vibes being put out from onstage, the mood in the venue left much to be desired. Built to accommodate approximately 1,000 people, the club felt grossly over-sold. Oh sure, if you were a groovy South Florida hipster enjoying the show from one of the club’s private VIP booths or were in the first few rows on the floor, enjoying a “Lee Harvey” view of the stage, it was no problem. But for most, getting even a glimpse of the band was nearly impossible. And at times, the scene was actually frightening, as people often became trapped on the stairway from the main floor to the balcony, unable to move in either direction.
As for the show, Butch Walker delivered a fabulous performance, proving that you don’t have to play last to be the headliner.
Butch Walker: www.butchwalker.com