John Butler Trio gets funky in Memphis

While the summer hasn’t been particularly hot (yet) in Memphis, things were scorching at Minglewood Hall on June 13 when the John Butler Trio made its first appearance in the Bluff City at an indoor venue.
JBT_Jmintz_MH2014_sm12Butler’s opening act, Falls, was a great way to start the evening. The folky duo from Australia were along the lines of the Civil Wars – Melinda Kirwin on vocals and Simon Rudston-Brown on vocals and guitar – and they had a string section backing them for good measure. It was a subdued way to get the evening started, and while their catalogue seemed to be lost on most in attendance, their cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” was well-received.

By the time the John Butler Trio took the stage, Minglewood was packed and ready to rock. Butler did a great job of giving the crowd exactly what they wanted. While the band is touring behind Flesh and Blood, they did a phenomenal job of building a setlist that featured new songs and older cuts that have held up over time.

“Revolution” and “Used to Get High” were great out of the gate, and then Butler followed them up with some great new songs like “Bullet Girl” and “Only One.”

JBT_Jmintz_MH2014_sm5When bassist Byron Luiters and drummer Grant Gerathy left the stage, everyone in the room knew “Ocean” was coming. Butler still plays it after all these years, and while it’s a setlist staple, it still never gets old.

After closing the set with a spirited “Zebra,” the band came back out for a great encore. Butler was in high spirits, probably because the crowd responded well to his set. He joked how he had played the entire set with his fly down, and that if the Memphis audience was really his friend, they’d have let him know. Frankly, though, the band had done such a great job of delivering quality music that he could have been naked on stage and no one would have noticed.

The encore was a solid as the set – it started with “Losing You,” followed by a blistering “Livin’ In The City,” and finally came to a close with a phenomenal “Funky Tonight.”

For a band that isn’t a regular in Memphis, the John Butler Trio certainly satiated their existing fans, and undoubtedly made some new ones along the way. It was a great set, and hopefully the next time through won’t be far behind.

Click the thumbnails to view the photos from the show – photos by Josh Mintz /


John Butler Trio