Live at St. Gallen is a 2005 live CD and DVD by The John Butler Trio recorded in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The two CDs included in the set were recorded live at St. Gallen, whereas the DVD was recorded at the Sydney Opera House in 2004.
– This album went out of print in 2014 and was re-packaged in 2015 as a 2-CD album. The DVD is no longer included and is out of print.
If you’ve never heard a John Butler Trio concert before, then take everything you know about his studio albums, and forget it all. The formula for his songs are completely thrown away, many times the song morphs into a completely new sound. The trio stretches many of their songs into a 7 or 8 minute jam, before finishing. Such is the case in the John Butler Trio’s 2nd live album, Live at St. Gallen. The John Butler Trio’s emotion and talent is captured much better in a live show than it could ever be in one of their albums.
The first sound you hear in this album is someone introducing the John Butler Trio. Immediately after you hear John Butler’s acoustic guitar twanging in with some cymbals and chimes as an aid. This mystical sound leads straight into Treat Yo Mama. The energy of the band as well as the audience is very high. John Butler’s catchy singing and crazy guitar parts are mind-blowing. During the bridge, John plays around with different little licks, creating an almost Egyptian sound at one point. After a quick “thank you,” the drum intro to Company Sin begins. As soon as the looping bass and repetitive guitar come in, the crowd gives a little cheer of recognition. The chorus is catchy as always, and of course John takes a few minutes to solo midway through the song.
Most of the album follows the same formula as the first two tracks. Intro, verses, chorus, solos and jamming, finish. The slower What You Want is stretched out to over 8 minutes, but never once loses your attention. It never lags once, and the wah-induced guitar solo is euphoric sounding. Betterman is another perfect example of John Butler Trio’s musical talent. Each instrument takes time to solo. Also, there is a lot of crowd participation during the jams. Barker’s three minute drum solo shows that John is not the only talented member of the band. Sixteen minutes later, when Betterman finishes, you are not even tired. Pickapart follows a similar formula and has some very clever verses and, as usual, great guitar playing backing it up.
After a quickband introduction, Oldman blasts in. Here are some more clever lyrics about the governments faults, mixed with some fast guitars and a repetitive chorus to create another signature John Butler Trio jam. Hello is very similar to Oldman, being at only 5 and a half minutes as well. This song does not stand out, though the guitar solo is played perfectly by John.
Unlike the rest of the album, Something’s Gotta Give clocks in at only about three and a half minutes. This song sticks mainly to the studio version, but the lyrics are as powerful as ever. Before the song begins John states, “This song is dedicated to all those people out there who want peace on this planet. They don’t want a war in Iraq or a war anywhere.”
The two standout gems of the album are easily Ocean and Peaces & Cream. Ocean is a complete 12-minute guitar instrumental, with no drums or bass behind it. Before the song begins, John tells the crowd that he uses his instrumentals to talk to crowds who don’t speak his language. Ocean is one of those songs you can listen to when you are depressed or lonely and it will help you feel better. The song seems to be split into two parts. The first section sounds like two guitars are playing over top of each other, and it’s hard to believe that it’s just one man playing. At about 5:55, the second portion begins. This is where the song really picks up speed and creates one of the most euphoric sounds I ever heard. It’s very hard to explain, so the best thing I can tell you to do is go listen to this song yourself. The song ends with a rush and leaves you with such a feeling of euphoria that you feel compelled to listen to the song at least once more.
Peaches & Cream is a slow love song written to John’s wife and daughter. The guitar here is just a few simple chords being strummed over and over again. Unlike Ocean, Peaches & Cream’s best quality is not John’s amazing guitar playing. Although it is John playing solo until the final chorus where the bass and drums enter, the best part of this song is the lyrics. The chorus is so soft and beautiful, and it is just one of those tracks you can get lost in.
The final two songs Zebra and Take are two of the trio’s most popular crowd favorites. Zebra has extremely catchy verses and a little guitar riff that you will hear in your head all day. Take lasts over 11 minutes and has a little drum solo in it. It ends with a little jam by the full band, and when it finishes, the crowd cheers the John Butler Trio as they exit the stage.
Overall, this album shows off the John Butler Trio’s unusual ability to play so well live. They create some of the most intense sounds you find, and with only three musicians. Each member is extremely talented, although John Butler himself tends to take the spotlight most of the time. When you mix together the catchy lyrics, insane jams, and great songs, you get a John Butler Trio concert.