Butch Walker turned the House of Blues, Chicago into party central as he brought his 200 Pound Tornado of Rock N Roll Destruction Tour to town.
10-Sept-2016: Suzanne Santo was first up, kicking off the night. Santo is no stranger to this stage, having previously opened for the likes of Lighthouse. Some people in the audience know Santo as being part of the duo, Honeyhoney, but tonight she was by herself, single-handedly captivating the ever filling House of Blues.
Her show might have been a short set, but thatâ€™s all she needed to be able to showcase her beautiful voice while effortlessly strumming the guitar. It was a simple setup but executed to perfection. Bringing a Nashville influence to proceedings, she rounded out her set with two Johnny Cash songs. Short but sweet, luckily this was not the last we would see of Santo tonight, as she made a reappearance as part of Walkerâ€™s band.
Second up was Romes, adding a more pop vibe to the night. The four-piece from Toronto put on an energetic performance, dancing and grooving around the stage and engaging the ever growing crowd.
The band may only have been performing under the Romes guise since last year, but they have known each other for 10-15 years. Jacob (vocals) and Nick (drums) are two brothers from Canada, who met the two Irish members, James (guitar) and Andrew (bass) whilst at University in Ireland. This long-standing friendship is clearly evident when you see the chemistry they have when performing on the stage together.
The excitement was palpable as the man himself finally took to the stage. There were several members of the audience who make sure to catch Butch Walker every time he comes to town, but there were also some newbies who didnâ€™t yet know what to expect nor the fun night that lay ahead of them.
To say this was an energetic and impassioned performance is an understatement. Walker burst out onto the stage for a high-octane performance that did not wane for one-minute throughout the night. Going from throwing the pick into the air, catching it and continuing playing without missing a beat, to throwing his guitar up so high it nearly hit the lighting rig. As everyone held their breath, he luckily caught it and continued as if he hadnâ€™t doubted he would catch it.
Walker has an established reputation as a producer and songwriter for some huge names, including Pink, Avril Lavigne, and Brian Fallon to name just a few. However, this is a guy who knows how to put on a show in his own right. His song structure and lyrics are simple, yet effective.
His set started out with material off his new album, Stay Gold, before taking the crowd on a trip down memory lane, delving into his older material. Both old and new had the audience singing and dancing along, but when he played â€œClosest Thing to You I’m Gonna Find,â€ you could barely hear Walker for the volume of the fans singing every word. Particular mention must go to their performance of â€œDescending,â€ which included Suzanne Santo on vocals for the beautiful duet. This rendition was outstanding and better than the recorded version on the new album.
This show did not feel like you were attending a concert, but more of a party with friends. Walker had the backing of the audience from the first beat, singing along to every â€œwoahâ€ in perfect harmony. When the stage was too small to contain his energy, he jumped down into the middle of the crowd and instigated a full dance party. The audience waved their arms about in the air like those inflatable waving arm men as the balloons dropped from the ceiling and the confetti cannons fired.
Not only is Walker an amazing songwriter, guitarist, and producer â€” but this guy knows how to entertain and connect with an audience. He told stories of a girl he knew in high school and had his son come out take the mic to sing for the cooing crowd.
Judging by the looks and smiles on the faces of fans as they filtered out of the House of Blues, it is fair to say there are even more people who will be planning to see Walker again whenever he is in town. Listening to the comments, this level of performance is not just a one-off extravaganza, but can be expected every night.