Where did all the people go? Day 5 of Bluesfest is always the quietest but wow! The crowd was about a quarter of the size of yesterday’s. All good. Made it easier to get close to the stages and halved the wait time to get an organic doughnut. Here’s the remaining acts that caught our eyes and ears.
An imposing presence on the stage in his signature head to toe black attire, Dan Sultan belted out songs mostly from his albums ‘Killer’ and ‘Blackbird’, not missing a beat even when he changed guitars mid-song during ‘Kimberley Calling’. Sultan’s gravelly singing voice is perfectly suited to his soul-rock style with backup singers on every song. While some of the subject matter of his songs can be gritty and confronting, he had a grand old time stirring up different sections of the audience into a cheering competition, and having them singing the gospel-like song ‘Hold It Together’ along with him. Sultan is a great live act.
Couldn’t miss a chance to see a band formed by Mental as Anything legends Reg Mombassa and Peter O’Doherty. This is definitely more of a rock and roll project than Mentals were with a bit of blues thrown in. A respectable cover of the Rolling Stones ‘Little Red Rooster’ proved they know how to do blues like Mick Jagger. Their own song ‘Canal Rock’ had a Status Quo 70s type beat showing the band’s true roots.
Jimmy Cliff can still get the crowd moving to his toe-tapping, up-beat reggae music even if he can’t move around as much himself these days. With songs like ‘Wonderful world, Beautiful People’, ‘The Harder they Come’, and ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ you can’t help but smile.
Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real
This is rock with unmistakeable country licks. Lucas Nelson’s voice is also unmistakeable too. He probably hates hearing this but he sounds like a louder, rockier version of his famous father Willie. Sorry Lucas. Promise of the Real deliver a far louder country rock backup than when they back up Neil Young too. Tons of energy onstage jumping around with band members during songs and scissor leg high jumps at the end of songs. Phew, almost too much for the last exhausting day of Bluesfest.
Gotta love it when an 80s music legend lets the audience know at the start of his set “I’m here to play all the hits!” Hell yeah!! That’s what the crowd was there for and that’s what he delivered, all the while decked out in a sequinned red jacket. There were plenty of sequinned punters in the crowd too I might add. All the easy listening and dance tunes were played with aplomb: ‘All Night Long’ (of course), ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’, ‘Penny Lover’, ‘Say You, Say Me’, ‘Hello’, ‘Stuck On You’…the list goes on and on.
In the late 90’s, nearly every restaurant in Byron Bay was playing Morcheeba’s ‘Sea’. I’m looking forward to a resurgence of the song in the far more ritzy eating establishments of today’s Byron Bay thanks to Morcheeba’s appearance at Bluesfest 2018. The band’s laid back electronic R & B was the perfect way to wind down the festival. Lead singer Skye Edwards kept the crowd’s attention with her honeyed voice and faithful renditions of the originals. Her stunning sprayed on red mini dress with flowing scarves as well as frequent stobe lights meant that the audience’s eyes remained transfixed on the stage. Just all round hypnotic.
And so it ends. See you in 2019 Bluesfest.
IMAGES (C) JD Garrahy (Morcheeba, Lionel Ritchie and Lukas Nelson)