Fresh off his flight, after a hellish two days trying to get here, Walker walked on stage at the Borderline in Soho, no introduction necessary, sat down and began to play. The audience, completely silent listened to him open with Afraid of Ghosts.
If I was to sum up the night, the performance, the music in a few words, all I can say is: the guy shreds.
Bar Summer of ’89 and The 3 kids in Brooklyn, Butch Walker played completely solo and the level of musical talent the man encompasses in inconceivable, even to his fans. You could listen to this guy everyday from Southgang to The Black Widows and still be left speechless by how skilled he is when you see him live. He is ridiculously good on keys, not something you expect from someone whose guitar-playing leaves everything to be admired and praised. And I know he can sing, but listening to him live, it is a completely different experience – he has one of those voices that wrap around you, taking you in, and let you drift off in them.
He played his father’s favourites, and audience favourites, moving between the softer, slower Afraid of Ghosts tracks to his older, faster stuff. Frank Turner joined him on stage for Summer of ’89, which was a nice treat for all. The gig was littered with little moments of magic like the audience singing along to Mixtape, and a single girl hitting the echo line “I talk to me” in the most perfect way.
The especially wonderful thing about the show, after the beautiful music, was the community atmosphere – it wasn’t just the well-behaved audience, or the way Walker made us laugh and cry, or the way he spoke with us, telling us stories and keeping us hanging on his every word… It was the sense of respect – for each other as well as the artist. His fans really are like a family, and a very welcoming one at that.
And then, around 10.30pm, Walker disappeared off the stage.
He came back, picked up his guitar, and told us about his father. He slowed it back down, and played us the last song he ever played for his dad. And it was almost indescribable. It was like being in a movie, or imagining what fictional characters feel in their fictional, emotional-heightened, anything-is-possible worlds. There he is on stage, having shared something so personal, and the audience, in perfect harmony begin their low hum. It was as if a feeling of collectiveness washed over us, and it was the perfect end to the night.