Butch Walker

Final SXSW Live Shots

Butch Walker

Central Presbyterian Church, March 14

With a résumé that includes Southern sleaze metal (SouthGang), cheeky power pop (Marvelous 3), and Top-40 hack work for Pink, Avril Lavigne, etc., Butch Walker has proven himself a genial polymath with a yen for hooks. His own music often makes ironic commentary on this business of show, but took on a self-reflective, narrative air Thursday – perhaps appropriately, given the church setting. Opening with a pair of piano ballads, the pompadoured popsmith rooted through his past with a surprisingly pretty tenor and unguarded heart. Picking up his guitar, he continued the theme with the visceral self-help of "Going Back/Going Home," and by the time his band joined him, the pews of acolytes rested comfortably in the palm of his hand. Walker treated the crowd to a new tune, the countrified childhood reminiscence "Let It Go Where It's Supposed To," but mainly stuck to crowd-pleasers, including sing-along "The Weight of Her," Muscle Shoals' ballad "Closest Thing to You I'm Gonna Find," and the pop pastiche "Synthesizers," complete with a chorus of "Come On Eileen." Ending with the balls-out rock of "Bodegas and Blood," Walker came full circle, re-establishing the ironic decadence of his early work while retaining his mature introspection.

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