|All photos by Kevin Norris|
Walker took the stage solo for the first part of the set, playing a series of tunes from his back catalog, starting with an a cappella version of "Cigarette Lighter Love Song." On the old Marvelous 3 songs, he let the crowd sing most of the lyrics, singing nary a word on "Every Monday," but for the band's biggest hit, "Freak of the Week," which he said he's sick of singing, he pulled someone from the crowd to take over vocal duties. To everyone's enjoyment, a young man named Jose really rocked the song.
After seven songs, Walker left the stage and returned quite quickly with his band The Black Widows to launch into "Summer of '89." The main set was heavy on songs from the band's latest album, The Spade, which is full of energy and attitude, perfect for a rock show.
One of the album's best songs, the jaunty "Synthesizers," came early in the set and featured a jam of "Come on Eileen" near the end. The band had a lot of fun which each other, mixing some theatrics into the set including everyone falling down simultaneously at one point.
Walker dedicated "Day Drunk" to his father, prefacing it with a story about how they were going to spend the next two days off visiting him in Cartersville, GA for a cookout at his dad's mill like the ones he experienced growing up. Walker got quite emotional during the song and his eyes were red and tearing up.
The main set ended with more emotion with the classic "Best Thing You Never Had." The band didn't leave long before returning for an encore featuring the cheeky "3 Kids in Brooklyn" and finally, "Suckerpunch." The latter featured more theatrics, as bassist Jake Sinclair taunted Walker during the song, leading him to literally sucker punch Sinclair in the middle of it. Fellow Black Widow Eva Gardner took his bass and finished the song as he laid flat on the stage, to be carried off by two techs moments later.
The show was one of the most entertaining shows I've seen Walker put on, and he's been quite the showman for many years.
The evening was a family affair from start to finish, featuring short sets from members of The Black Widows. Things started with Chris Unck and Eva Gardner's band Telstar. They rocked through three excellent pop rock songs, including "My Guitar."
Next up was Black Widow Jake Sinclair and his younger brother John who perform simply as Sinclair. They played all three songs from their debut EP, including the fantastic "Intelligent Life."
Guitarist Fran Capitanelli was up next, playing two songs solo before being joined by two of his fellow Black Widows to close out his three-song set. The catchy "My Favorite Jeans" from his album Kave Talk was a highlight.
And last but certainly not least was a set from Shovels and Rope. Cary Ann Hearst is featured on Walker's last two albums and he produced her most recent album Lions and Lambs. Michael Trent co-wrote a number of songs on Walker's last two albums and Walker produced Oh Scorpio!, the sophomore release from Trent's band The Films.
Shovels and Rope rocked in their typical style, with plenty of southern swagger. Walker joined them on piano for the title track from Trent's latest album The Winner." The crowd seemed quite taken with the band, some of which were surprised to learn that the band play Slim's fairly regularly. I think their show will be much more crowded next time.
Butch Walker set list
Cigarette Lighter Love Song
Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You
Freak of the Week
Race Cars and Goth Rock
Going Back/Going Home
Summer of '89
She Likes Hair Bands
Every Single Body Else
Bodegas and Blood
Closest Thing To You I'm Gonna To Find
Best Thing You Never Had
The 3 Kids in Brooklyn
Butch Walker & the Black Widows
Shovels and Rope