Will Butler at Whelan’s – Review and Photos
A member of Arcade Fire was always likely to draw a big crowd to Whelan’s, and so it proved as a tuxedo wearing Will Butler emerged to a huge appreciative crowd on Saturday night. Of course it helps that Butler’s recently released album Policy is a fine record in its own right and it was from that record that he mined the evening’s set. The band that he has assembled for this tour are all excellent, with drummer Miles being particularly entertaining, looking delighted with himself all evening as he pounded the drums, only breaking his grin to add some occasional enthusiastic, screechy backing vocals.
Kicking things off with the spiky ‘You Must Be Kidding’, Butler and his cohorts were in fine fettle from the off and rattled through a number of songs before he took the time to say hello midway through the set. ‘Madonna Can’t Save Me Now’ was an early highlight, full of gorgeous backing vocals from keyboard players Julie and Sarah and emotive drum fills from that man Miles. When he finally did stop after ‘Anna’ to say “thank you very much”, he was met with prolonged applause that he seemed genuinely surprised and delighted by. That reverence was shown during some quieter numbers later on in the set, as the crowd hushed and raptly listened as Butler and his band weaved their magic. His support for a yes vote in the upcoming marriage equality referendum also gained him some brownie points with the crowd.
It was a testament to the strength of his solo material that he didn’t have to rely on any Arcade Fire material and still deliver a fine set that was lapped up by the crowd. By the time ‘Take My Side’ brought matters to a smashing climax there were smiles all round from both sides of the stage. Returning for the encore, the band wandered from the stage and played acoustically in the middle of the room with the audience surrounding – camera phones aloft of course. Just to show how much he was enjoying himself, he told the crowd he didn’t want this last song to end and the crowd responded by blasting out the refrain of “come to me baby” for several minutes, trying to prolong the love in for as long as they possibly could.
As a member of Arcade Fire, Will Butler will have known that Ireland has always been kind to his band. They’ve played some of their most feted gigs here and now Will Butler can add another special Irish memory to that collection after a cracking Dublin performance all of his own.
Review by Mark O’Brien
Photos by Pedro Giaquinto
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