McAlmont and Butler
Saturday 28th September 2002
The Ambassador Theatre

mcalmont and butler dublin

McAlmont and Butler - there's something nice about duo's.

I'd been at work, so I didn't get to the Ambassador until about nine. Dr. J had also been at work, but managed to beat me there. The mature crowd were playing it cool so we walked straight up to second row and smiled.

Support was provided by a competent trio playing some weird stuff. It was too weird, and left us wondering once more what the hell was going on with support bands. We chatted. I was slightly aware that our nerdy conversation could be easily overheard by the girl standing alone beside us.

There was an excellent open talkback soundcheck by the crew ("sounds good to me"), and then the band came on. Bernard (who I hadn't seen since the Sparks gig) looked great, and Mr. McAlmont was dollar confident. The rest of the band had the collected look of professional musicians (though Mr. Drums won on chique).

The show that followed David McAlmont's "we aim to please" declaration was a special one. As ever, it's tricky to put a handle on the vista spread before me that evening, but it was all the little things that counted. Both guys were excellently dressed, and this helped. Both seemed fairly happy, and this also helped. Both (although particularly Mr. Butler) performed with physical vigour and motion, and this really helped. Little details of strolling around, or standing (and sitting) on the edge of the stage just seem to make people happy...

Obviously the music was excellent as well. Sound started a little unclear, then developed into the crystal decantery that I've come to expect at the Ambassador Theatre. David McAlmont showed us how to sing with complete ease, whilst Bernard Butler demonstrated that there's "playing the guitar", and then there's "playing the guitar". Simply put: he's the best guitarist I've seen...

For dessert they supplied some acoustic/vocal therapy from seated positions on the very front edge of the stage floor. This view could have been no better for me: a head in between the duo, then perfect views and sound. They finished with a favoured and undervalued cover: "back for good"...

House lights went up. We wanted some lists. The usual methods employed, we both got them (and since we'd managed no plectrums this was appreciated). Then we chatted to Wendy and her friend Jane. Jane was replacing the attendance of the Cockmaster, who had oral difficulties (shame). We slowly took our chatting outside, chatted some more, then realised we might as well wait around for the band to come out (a la david byrne). The girls left to get drunk.

The wait took ages, but once we had waited a while we just had to hang on. To wait and then surrender would have seemed too futile. Eventually they came out. Mr. McAlmont was accosted first. He cheerily signed our lists, bade us goodnight, and went unto his hotel with the rest of the entourage. We moved to Mr. Butler (who was penning for the other two people who had also waited), and proceeded to pen juggle (where's the ink??) between tickets and lists until we all stood smiling. Bernard then chatted with us for a little, and I took a few snaps of the group with the digital camera. The further dessert to our small meeting was when he produced a box of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards and let us all pick one. We read, thought, then smiled and showed each other what we'd got.

Mine: "is it finished?"

Thank you Bernard. Thank you David.

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