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LIVE REVIEW Will Butler, Deaf Institute, Manchester, Tuesday 21 April 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015 @ 18:17 by Max Wieland

Seeing Will Butler of Arcade Fire methodically planning and setting up his stage last night was a major plus point in the build up to his show, for it only heightened expectation in the crowd that this would add to the intimate feel that the Deaf Institute allows.

WIll Butler: Of Arcade Fire fame.

Will Butler: Of Arcade Fire fame.

For it is extremely rare that you see a band or artist roadie their own equipment, even in the most niche and grandiose of venues as this.

Suited and booted in a James Bond sort of tuxedo, American rocker Will certainly brought an element of Arcade Fire’s last stately tour to the small and lecture theatre of sort’s attic room at Deaf Institute.

Hitting the sort of venue his main band have long since outgrown, Butler jumped in between instruments with his usual vigour and combined well with his main support, drummer Miles Arntzen, as he did with Sara Dobbs and Julie Shore who delivered backing vocals and keyboards, adding a fuller sound to many tracks with their harmonies.

Often performing in a multitude of backing colours, Butler did well to make use of the venues dominating disco ball, often glittering in a magnitude of subtle tones across the blacked out top tier room.

His debut solo album Policy featured throughout, but unfortunately far too intermittently.


For when his album tracks did appear, it not only lifted the crowd, but his set too.

Crowd favourites centred on Take My Side, the Tetris-like Anna, and the enthralling and gentle Sing to Me.

The Spanish undertones of Son of God are also worth a particular mention too.

But far too often throughout the 60-minute set, the multi-instrumentalist revelled far too much in the extra spontaneity his solo shows allow. His usual Arcade Fire antics increased tenfold as he dashed about the stage resembling what one would expect from a teenager thrashing around musically in the family garage, something which was not amiss from the raw and energetic What I Want.

That aside, the show certainly gained more structure towards the close of the show, with the 32-year-old addressing the crowd for the first time 40 minutes in, paying homage to the beautiful weather that was drenched throughout Manchester yesterday.

He was as manic as ever and may have disappointed a few fans that he did not use the opportunity of an intimate show to showcase who Will Butler is, but what he did display was that his meticulous madness can certainly be gripping and entertaining when it’s on form.

But that aside, as the sold out show finished, those that departed certainly had a more dejected look on their face than when they entered, which pretty much summed up Will Butler’s largely hit-and-miss show.

He certainly has the talent to front his own band, but the jury is still out on whether he has the patience and confidence too.