The QT

Tuesday 23 July 2024
23/07/2024

Review: Bernard Butler, Gosforth Civic Theatre

Bernard Butler may be everybody’s favourite collaborator, but his live tour is a distinctly solo affair. Michael Telfer caught his Gosforth Civic Theatre show.
Bernard Butler
Bernard Butler
Bernard Butler on stage at Gosforth Civic Theatre

At the Bernard Butler gig at Gosforth Civic Theatre last night two things became quickly apparent. The first was that Bernard Butler is a thoroughly nice man. The second was that he starts his show on time, regardless of how many people are still in the bar.

There was no dimming of the lights or intro music to signal the start of the performance, just the wildly haired guitar virtuoso himself, dancing awkwardly onto stage and then launching into his first song.

He then very politely introduced himself and told us what a pleasure it was to be back in Gosforth, proudly pronouncing it perfectly. Butler, as he confesses early on, is a man who loves the UK and is somewhat confused by the fact that after all these years, he still lives in London.

At one point he talks about how much he enjoyed playing at Whitley Bay recently, even suggesting that he briefly saw himself living there, so charmed was he by life on the North East coast.

In between stories from his career, his many collaborations and his childhood selling papers outside tube stations, the Suede co-founder treated us to songs from his new album Good Grief and his back catalogue.

Bernard Butler
Butler was full of praise for the ‘wonderful’ Gosforth Civic Theatre

Armed with only a selection of guitars, Butler was still able to put on a sonically fulsome performance by making full use of his loop pedal.

His guitar playing is breath-taking, and at times almost at odds with his sheepish, modest persona. It’s a bit strange to watch somebody bolt a soaring three minute guitar solo onto the end of a number, and then thank people for waiting for him to finish before nipping out to grab a pint.

The stripped down nature of the set largely works brilliantly, and intimate renditions of big solo hits such as People Move On and Stay didn’t suffer at all in the absence of a live band.

Other songs, such as the joyously uplifting Yes from his collaboration with David McAlmont don’t stand up as well when shorn of its wall of sound and lead vocal, but it was still interesting to hear.

Butler took time out at one point in the performance to extol the virtues of small local venues such as Gosforth Civic Theatre, and to urge larger artists (clearly taking aim at Taylor Swift specifically) to allow some of the crumbs from the ever-taller top table to trickle down the food chain.

As I said, a thoroughly nice man. And one I imagine I’ll make sure to see again next time he’s back in the region.

Bernard Butler was supported by Mezanmi

@mictel45

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