07/21/14 Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theater*
07/22/14 San Francisco, CA – The Chapel *
07/25/14 Charlton Park, WOMAD Festival
07/26/14 Port Eliot Festival, St German's Church *
08/16/14 Osaka, Summer Sonic Festival 2014*
08/17/14 Tokyo, Summer Sonic Festival 2014*
08/21/14 Sydney, The Basement
08/22/14 Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria
10/23/14 Exeter, Phoenix+
10/24/14 Bristol, Fiddlers+
10/25/14 Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach+
10/27/14 Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms+
10/28/14 Manchester, Ruby Lounge+
10/29/14 Dublin, Whelans +
11/01/14 Hull, Fruit+
11/02/14 York, Fibbers+
11/03/14 Leicester, Musician+
11/05/14 Brighton, Komedia+
11/06/14 Southampton, Joiners+
11/10/14 London, Village Underground+
* Ben Watt with Bernard Butler
+ Ben Watt Trio
Before I talk about the show, I wanted to briefly talk about Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater as it's a venue that I'm sure many of you have not attended. Entrance to the venue is inside the bowling alley, not the door facing the street.
The venue is entirely seated, with the seats in the back on a raised incline, so sightline is a non-issue. Maximum capacity is 82, making it one of the smallest venue in the city. My only complaint, especially if you're seating next to the door, is that whenever someone leaves the venue (bathroom breaks or taking a phone call outside), you can definitely hear the crashing pins and the loud, excited bowlers.
It may depend on the show, but for this Watt performance, the entire audience was completely quiet and highly respectful of the performances. Also, please note that I caught the late 10 o'clock, but I suspect the set is close, if not identical, to the earlier show.
Rounding out the rest of the set was "Bricks and Wood", which was recorded during his Hendra session, but did not make the cut on the album. Watt explained that he recorded three different version of the songs, but was indecisive on picking the right version. Instead, he pointed out that there is a live version that he recorded on 6BBC, which you can hear soundcloud. That song, "Bricks and Woods", is about the night he was hanging out with his brother in London, and they decided to drive up to their childhood house.
Also worth noting although "Matthew Arnold's Field" was listed first, it was played after the Everything But the Girl song, "The Road."
Watt was quite talkative, often talking about how each song came together and what they were about. You get such great little stories, about how the singer for The Apartments, Peter Milton Walsh slept at Watt and Tracey Thorn's floor for six months, trying to make it in London.
You also got the impression that all these songs were all very personal to Watt. Watt tells us how he wrote "The Levels" (which features Pink Floyd's David Gilmour) was written for his Brother-in-Law. He also went on to tell us the sad story about how he wrote his memoir, Romany and Tom for his half-sister, but she passed away before she got a chance to read it.
Performance-wise, Bernard Butler does an amazing job playing these songs. They embellish Watt's songs, not overpowering, but enough that you can clearly hear his presence on the songs. Butler would sometime will step behind the curtains for songs that does not required his guitar.
While Butler never changed guitars, Watt, on the other hand, played on various guitars, including an old 1959 old favorite. You can always tell a guitar enthusiast by the various collections that they bring with them on tour.
For the encore, we were treated to "Spring" (the title was inspired by Jazz standard sheet music called "You Must Believe in Spring") and Everything But the Girl's "25th December."
After the show, fans, mostly of an older generation, would hang around to try to talk to their idols. Watt and Butler were both nice enough to take the time to shake hands, take photos, get autographs, and answer any questions. If you talked to anyone in the room, they would tell you how lucky we were to see these two legendary musicians were together in one tiny room.
Ben Watt and Bernard Butler will be playing Columbia City Theater in Seattle tonight, and will end their US tour at The Chapel in San Francisco on Tuesday, July 22.
Ben Watt, featuring Bernard Butler, at Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, Minneapolis (19 Jul 2014)