The sight of Butch Walker back onstage in Atlanta was an event his Atlanta fans could not miss. Walker played two back-to-back concerts at Center Stage on Friday, July 25 and Saturday, July 26. It had been some time since Walker had played in his native Atlanta, but he did not let it show.
Walker opened his set with a fitting solo performance on the piano of “Atlanta” off of his new album, Sycamore Meadows. He played several tracks off of Meadow’s including “Ships in a Bottle,” “Vessels”, and “Going Back and Going Home.” The laid back mood of the opening set was a welcomed pace for the audience and Walker, because while Walker was testing the reaction of new material, the audience was just glad to have him back in Atlanta and cheered as such, when the city was mentioned in his songs.
Prior to the show Walker mentioned that since he had not been rehearsing for a tour, he wanted to have fun and improvise more than usual; he certainly did. There was no hiding the smile on Walker’s face that he was happy to be back on stage. He seemed to play chords from whatever song was currently in his head, including The Commodores’ “Easy Like Sunday Morning,” which led into “Here Comes the Heartache,” and Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl.” Although the best cover of the night was Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” which became a sing-along anthem both nights with Walker backed by the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites.
Walker staples like “Mixtape” and “Diary of a San Fernando Sex Star” initiated a crowd sing-along both nights, but Walker really brought audience participation to a new level with his performance of Marvelous 3’s “Grant Park.” Walker proved to be the master of orchestration leading the audience to hold the constant drum beat by clapping and stomping, while he selected some other fans to play tambourine, shaker, and piano as he played and sang at the keyboard. What could have been a disaster of rhythmically challenged fans, turned into one of the most energetic performances of the night.
The show’s intensity found its height when Walker was joined on stage by the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites whilst singing “Stateline.” The band finished the song with him and then kept rolling out the hits including “Uncomfortably Numb,” “Don’t Move,” “#1 Summer Jam,” and many more.
Although both shows were entertaining, Friday’s concert served as a rehearsal for Saturday’s sold out performance. Walker could also tell the difference, remarking to Saturday’s crowd “Ya’ll are on fire compared to last night.” They had an extra reason. Even though the set lists stayed consistent between the two nights, Saturday’s show included a rare reunion of the Marvelous 3. Much to fans surprise, during Walker and Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites set Jayce Fincher and Doug Michell joined him on stage. The powerhouse trio played several of their hits as if they had never stopped playing together. After Fincher and Michell’s departure from stage, Walker was rejoined with the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites to finish the show with “Race Cars and Goth Rock,” which included a final audience sing-along.
Check out AMG’s exclusive photos from both shows!
You can view a video of the final song of the night below. Also, check out more videos from the night on Atlanta Music Guide’s YouTube page.