Butch Walker Confronts His Ghosts at Intimate Hollywood Shows
Butch Walker’s seventh solo album, the Ryan Adams-produced Afraid of Ghosts, is centered around the death of his father, “Big Butch” and coming to terms with that loss. Walker has been touring in support of that album on his 'On Your Mark. Get Set. Sad.' tour which made the setting of his last three sold out shows – the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery – all the more poignant with a stark underline to the themes of loss and catharsis.
The mood was intimate and confessional with the faithful seated in hard, wooden chairs for the first two shows. For the final show, the seats were removed, allowing an extra 100 tickets to be added.
Each night, Walker filled the hall with his huge presence, making his mostly solo show sound immense. He began each evening at the piano with “Afraid of Ghosts,” drawing the crowd in emotionally. After “Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You” – another song about loss and remorse – he moved to the acoustic guitar for 2004’s “Don’t Move,” and then onto tracks from Afraid of Ghosts.
The set, which consisted of Big Butch’s favorite songs, varied only slightly each night. Walker accompanied himself on electric guitar and bass drum, joined on occasion by his opening acts: Jonathan Tyler and the Dove & the Wolf, who filled out the sound when needed. It added to the warm and homey atmosphere – a touring family putting on a show together. The energy was high once Walker switched to electric guitar; thrashing out solos, playing slide guitar with a whisky bottle and even prostrating himself on stage to play guitar with his mouth, keeping the audience thoroughly engaged and on their feet.
Tuesday’s show also featured a surprise appearance by Adams, who played guitar on “21 and Over” and the supremely sexy “Bed on Fire,” while Jakob Dylan joined Walker onstage Friday night, trading vocals with him on “Closest Thing To You I’m Gonna Find.” That night, Walker pulled out a rare treat: “Love Ain’t Enough” by his "hair band" from the late '80s, Southgang. Additionally, Tuesday night’s show featured a performance of Marvelous 3’s “Freak of the Week” by audience birthday girl Cat, which was subsequently performed on the final night by Jonathan Tyler, and the Dove & the Wolf in long wigs, bandanas and Butch Walker T-shirts as an end of tour highlight.
Walker brought it all full circle during the encore, returning to the acoustic guitar for a trio of heartfelt numbers: “Coming Home,” Bette Midler’s “The Rose,” and finally, “Father’s Day.” He poured everything he had into these songs each and every night, and there were few dry eyes in the house. Big Butch’s presence was keenly felt.
Friday night, Walker ended the show and the tour by thanking his dad for being his biggest fan and his best friend.
Check out our shots from the night below.