Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2018 – Day 5

Review by Wanda Hill

Michael Franti & Spearhead at Bluesfest Byron Bay 2018
Photographer : Stuart Blythe

Bluesfest 2018 – Monday 2nd April – Day 5

Bluesfest offers so many different kinds of musical experiences and this final day’s selection was all about feeling good and going home on a high. Harry Manx provided perfect relaxing afternoon music, playing solo initially then inviting Clayton Doley (keys) and Jeff Lang (guitar) to join him. They added extra dimensions to Harry’s already multidimensional songs. Beautiful sound quality emanated from the Delta stage, enabling the sweet harmonics of Harry’s slide guitar and Mohan Veena (cross between a guitar and sitar) to glide out across the festival, matching the gentleness and colour array of day turning into night.

Chic featuring Nile Rogers delivered the stand out exceptional experience of the festival at the Mojo. Chances are you may not know Nile Rodgers or know that it is his songs that you happen to love. This major producer has written songs for Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Madonna, Daft Punk, David Bowie, INXS, Duran Duran, Pharrell Williams and many many more. Nile came on stage early to do his own sound check in front of the crowd, chatting casually and creating an informal atmosphere, whilst making sure his guitar sound was right. Chic featuring Nile Rogers are an RnB, funk, soul, dance, disco band with EXTRA soul. These are the funky party people, they are the spirit of disco, famous for songs like Le Freak and Everybody Dance. Vocalist Kimberly Davis demonstrated her dynamic vocal prowess, magnetism and warmth while singing Chic original I Want Your Love and vocalist Folami took centre stage for songs written by Nile and his major collaborator Bernard Edwards for Diana Ross, such as Upside Down and I’m coming Out.

Having the time of their lives the audience went wild for this band consisting of high calibre musicians Jerry Barnes (bass), Ralph Rolle (drummer), Russell Graham (keys), Richard Hilton (keys), Bill Holloman (sax and trumpet) and Curt Ramm (trumpet). Hearing Ralph Rolle sing Let’s Dance was a particular highlight and the totally funked up, full of soul version of Get Lucky was also amazing. About 30 people from the audience were invited on stage to dance during a medley of hits towards the end of the set. A once in a lifetime experience for all the lucky punters.

Chic featuring Nile Rodgers exuded so much love, warmth and celebration in this show it was truly exhilarating. Nile started his career as a musician in New York for Sesame Street and went on to form production company CHIC Organization with Bernard Edwards. Nile has just been appointed Chief Creative Advisor at Abbey Road Studios in London, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Lionel Ritchie followed on from Chic’s epic disco extravaganza singing songs from all eras of his career with visuals projected onto a screen behind him depicting poignant historical musical moments, spanning decades. He had the sentimental crowd in tears during some songs and many lovers seemed to be rekindling romance throughout the experience. Songs from his time with The Commodores got the crowd dancing and regular jacket changes helped delineate the changes in styles of music. At one stage he almost had the crowd thinking Diana Ross was coming to sing with him, but cleverly had the audience sing instead. Which they did really well, it sounded beautiful and in key. Finishing his set with All Night Long many patrons will still be singing this song to themselves for the next couple of days.

Michael Franti and Spearhead closed the night at the Crossroads making it all about the kids in the audience. One very fortunate young man sang a whole song with Franti, visibly extremely moved and grateful for the experience. Later a whole load of very young kids from the audience joined him on stage, giving them a story they will be telling their friends about for years to come. Morcheeba wove their magic over at the Jambalaya sending almost ethereal sounds out into the night, creating a gentle transition for the venue to return to its natural state, filled with the sounds of frogs and birds. While it is sad for all us music lovers that the event is over, I’m sure all the plants and animals of Tyagarah will be relieved to have their peace and quiet back, till next year.

Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2018 – Day 5