Live Review: John Butler Trio, Tinpan Orange

8 February 2016 | 11:24 am | Emma McConnell

"The entire venue was silent except for Butler's mesmerising melodies and the sound of the wind in the eucalyptus trees above."

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With the rain thankfully holding out, the lawns of Taronga Zoo proved to be a sublime setting for an evening of live music. Melbourne three-piece Tinpan Orange graced the stage with their subtle folk melodies and the dreamy, otherworldly voice of Emily Lubitz. Briefly introducing each track, Lubitz charmed the audience, her voice effortlessly echoed by the stunning instrumentals of violinist Alex Burkoy and her brother Jesse on guitar. Performing a set comprised of ethereal-yet-melancholic tracks, standouts included Like Snow and Rich Man. Tinpan Orange concluded with their 2007 release; Bottle Of Whiskey; a mournful-yet-moving finish for the band.

As twilight fell, a small but eager crowd formed in front of the stage for the arrival of John Butler Trio. After opening with Cold Wind, frontman Butler dived straight into a purely instrumental display, entrancing the audience in a manner that has become synonymous with their live shows. A failed attempt at some crowd participation got Butler and the audience laughing before he plunged into a bluegrass banjo solo. This was swiftly followed by Better Than and Used To Get High, both from the trio's 2007 release Grand National. Pickapart saw bassist Byron Luiters and percussionist Grant Gerathy shine, providing extensive solos that received an abundance of applause. After engaging the crowd with the Ocean backstory, the performance of this Celtic-influenced solo track was a truly inspiring experience. The entire venue was silent except for Butler's mesmerising melodies and the sound of the wind in the eucalyptus trees above. Blame It On Me and Zebra lightened up the atmosphere immensely. A brief intermission signalled an encore and they ended with the electric track Funky Tonight. With this set significantly shorter than what you'd expect from the band, their performance still managed to exceed all expectations. The music of John Butler Trio will always feel like home.