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Hump Day Saturday

Imogen Heap started our Bluesfest Saturday like a mad scientist of music. With her array of instruments and being wired to the wrists with microphones, the British singer-songwriter made a little magic as she manipulated her laboratory.



We had to check out Tim Robbins & The Rogues Gallery Band, just because he’s in the movies. The most intriguing thing about his songs is the personal or socially conscious stories he tells about his inspiration in writing them.



Wolfmother whipped the crowd into a frenzy on a day when most people were struggling. Andrew Stockdale proved that he’s an incredible musician but the extended guitar solos came across a little too indulgent. Their hour-long set seemed to fit only five songs, but at least ‘The Joker & The Thief’ was one of them. The Indigo Girls brought it back to basics, or should we say back to acoustics. The folk duo arrived at Bluesfest from Atlanta with only a couple of guitars and their beautiful voices.



Like a modern day Marvin Gaye, John Legend closed out the evening with some soul and a tickle of the ivory. Opening with Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’, Legend proceeded to woo the women in the crowd with his smooth vocals and stunning good looks. Stepping away from his piano on occasion, he performed both old standards and his original songs, singing us into another nights slumber.



Sunday Salvation

We arrived at the farm just in time for church. New Orleans gospel singer Irma Thomas treated us to ‘Time Is On My Side’ and ‘Simply The Best’ as they were originally recorded, not that The Rolling Stones and Tina Turner did a bad job respectively.

The Blind Boys of Alabama also put on a joyful show of gospel and blues including ‘Way Down In The Hole’, a favourite theme song from TV show ‘The Wire’. There’s really nothing like a blind man wanting to walk through the mosh pit of his gig while still hollering the song back to his boys as he was just too energised to stay sitting in his seat on stage. The Blind Boys were then joined by Aaron Neville, who injected his sweet falsetto voice into soul songs ‘People Get Ready’ and ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’.

After such an uplifting session, the crowd was ready for The Cat Empire. Celebrating their 10-year anniversary as a band, it was clear that the Melbourne guys still enjoy watching each other play. Having concluded their set with the call to arms anthem ‘The Chariot’, the crowd called for more and they didn’t disappoint with their rarely played tracks ‘Hello’ and ‘The Car Song’. Forgotten lyrics were forgiven as The Cat Empire delivered the improvised skat, horns and piano solos that make them one of Australia’s most exciting live bands, and in turn gave us a sweaty close to Sunday’s festivities.



Mega Monday

No one can deny they came to Bluesfest on Monday to see the biggest name on the lineup. It was all about Bob Dylan, and staking your claim in that tent early enough meant you saw some great performances in the lead-up. Buffy Saint-Marie, the Native American songwriter responsible for ‘Up Where We Belong’ and ‘Universal Soldier’ gave a stirring performance filled with traditional vocal sounds and messages of social justice. Warren Haynes pulled a celebrity crowd as Tim Robbins got down to his great guitar playing and the brilliant soul saxophone of his all-star band.

Without a word, Bob Dylan took to the stage for the most anticipated performance of the festival. Opening with ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright’, the audience strained for a glimpse of the legend. Moving effortlessly from guitar to harmonica and keys, just hearing Dylan’s poetry and distinctive vocals were all that was needed to satisfy most of his fans. Standing deep on the stage and without being filmed for the big screens, only those front and centre could enjoy the full performance experience. Playing an array of songs from his more recent albums, it was a surprise to hear an old hit in ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, and his encore of ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ showed he was having a good time up there as the Bluesfest crowd belted out the chorus.



Next up, Elvis Costello & The Imposters hit the stage with all guns blazing. Making their Bluesfest debut with the powerhouse classic ‘Pump It Up’ and sneaking in some lyrics to ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, Elvis tipped his cap to his fellow troubadour then went on to inject his set with equal amounts of reggae, blues and straight up rock. ‘Everyday I Write The Book’ and ‘Watching The Detectives’ were energetic examples of their back catalogue, but sadly with a long drive home on Tuesday we had to call it a night, and call it a festival.

The Byron Bay Bluesfest has become a world-renowned event and music lovers flock to see the lineup of talent assembled each year.

Let us know who you’d like to see play there next year by commenting below!


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