Ahh the final day of Bluesfest. The hardcore stayers are out in force, wringing every last minute of aural pleasure out of the final hours. Here’s who we caught on Day 5:
Allen Stone is like a funked up (and in this reviewer’s opinion, much cooler) version of Justin Timberlake. His impressive vocal range, irresistibly catchy grooves and charismatic stage persona had us going to his show twice. Putting his silky voice into action, Allen wowed the crowds with the hip thrusting ‘Bringing Me Down’, ‘Naturally’ – a new song dedicated to ‘the lady’, which was reminiscent of the Boyz to Men era in its RnB smoothness with some incredible falsetto moments – and ‘Brown Eyed Lover’ where he basically became a modern day version of Stevie Wonder. There were also the rocking and unique renditions of ‘Message In A Bottle’ by the Police and his song ‘Love’ where he threw in a mashup of songs by the Fugees and The Weekend. Stone and his band were the real deal. Talented. Authentic. A huge festival highlight for us.
Wow, this guy can really sing. Walking in, the tent was shuddering under the power of the notes Anderson East was belting out, and the big sound his super tight band had going on. It was little wonder to see why Anderson had such an an adoring fan club, (I met at least half a dozen people who had seen him three times at the festival). The emotionally stirring songs and his heartfelt lyrics swept you up and into his world – one which incorporated love, pain and life. The heart-wrenching ‘If You Keep Leaving Me’ and ‘Girlfriend’ were goose-bump inducing, and the powerful ‘Sorry You’re Sick’ and witty ‘Bringing Out the Devil in Me’ had the crowd mesmerised and drawn to the stage. Anderson East is a true artist, who puts his life on a plate and serves it up to the crowd, one slice at a time.
As the rain bucketed down (again), the cosy atmosphere of the crowd crammed in the Mojo tent was rather fitting for Ray’s set, especially given he wasn’t performing with his band. Instead, he and Wilco’s John Stirrat on bass, played songs that spanned across all of Ray’s seven studio albums. Ray has one of those voices that echoes and reverberates through your body, and his songs tell stories of all things love and loss. ‘Beg Steal or Borrow’ and ‘Lavender’ were beautifully melancholic and ‘Part II In My Own Way’ and ‘Such a Simple Thing’ demonstrated Ray’s simplistic, yet touching songwriting ability. With wonderful harmonising alongside Stirrat and an intensely focused performance throughout the set, Ray reminded us all of the simplistic beauty of acoustic music and that sometimes, less is more.
Anticipation was well and truly in the air when David and his band took to the stage and unsurprisingly, the crowd were left well and truly satisfied. Everything about David is authentic – his stage persona; his songs; his music and it’s this authenticity that makes his performances so unforgettable. David takes to his instruments, in particular the keys, like a duck takes to water and his wide vocal range seems effortless for him. Playing a range of songs from his old and later albums, David had the crowd in awe and it was refreshing to see people of all ages getting swept up in the show. His powerful rendition of ‘The Sapling’ as well as a some other new material had everyone’s full attention as he switched instruments, looped guitar and hit away at the piano. However everyone was reminded of just how iconic David is when he opened up the catalogue of his 1998 breakthrough album, ‘White Ladder’. ‘Babylon’, ‘Sail Away’ and ‘Mallory’ were met with riotous applause and admiring fans. It wasn’t just David’s music that made his performance a highlight, his warm and open humbleness and interaction with the crowd made the experience an enriching one and ensured every single person in that tent walked away with a smile firmly planted on their face.
Three words. ROCK AND ROLL. If you didn’t catch this performance then go and watch a YouTube video of it as not only were Jack White and the band (namely Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler) incredible performers, but their music was that gut-wrenching, rocking, head banging material that left you begging for more. Professional to the end, Jack and the band wasted little time in playing good old fashioned rock, with some unbelievable lead guitar work and impressive drumming. Spanning old and new hits, the band’s onstage presence and energy was palpable and the tent transformed into one hot, sweaty dance pit. Every song showcased the talented songwriting ability of the band, as well as their instrumental prowess. Simply put, the band were too good to pull out my pen and paper and instead had to be given my full attention – it was without a doubt a memorable (if not life-altering) experience and one that hopefully sees the Saboteurs back in Australia sooner rather than later. If not, I guess I’ll be jumping on a plane to see their next show.
IMAGES (c) Danny Santangelo and JD Punisher Photography