Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2019 – Day 2

By Wanda Hill

Photo credit – Evan Malcolm

Bluesfest Day 2 – 19 April 2019

Gazing out over a sea of happy faces all staring at a source of inspiration is one of the highlights of Bluesfest, a religious experience of sorts. Finding togetherness in appreciation for another’s artistic expression is the kind of non denominational worship that can heal old wounds and start new friendships. Whether you like an an artist or not it is hard to ignore the passion, talent and commitment required to build a career around music that lets you travel the world. What greater way to spend a designated holy day than watching people who have risen to god/dess status in our lifetimes and listen to the gifts they bring.

As promised Snarky Puppy delivered the second installment of three unique sets they are performing this festival. Highlights included an epic percussion/drum kit duel between Keita Ogawa and Jamison Ross and a wild multi dimensional finale ‘keyscape’ by Shaun Martin and Bobby Sparks. Tonight, Saturday, 9.15pm at the Crossroads, Snarky Puppy will deliver their final offering of genre fusion genius. Do not miss this incredible collection of musicians who are all artists in their own right, gathered to create some of the most inspirational, original and creative music on the planet today.

Torrential rain attempted to control the flow of humans by suggesting they stay put in whatever nearby dry location, but nothing would stop what seemed like the whole Bluesfest community from jumping puddles on route to finding a vantage point in the Crossroads, to experience Norah Jones. This sublime artist captivated her audience with a slow burn set that built in intensity while never speeding up. Just her warmth grew hotter till everyone’s hearts were enraptured. Each song a heartfelt insight into relatable emotion, driven by chord progressions that deepened the experience. Supported by a wonderful band her songs relaxed the crowd and brought a calm to festival.

Proving that age is no barrier Iggy Pop performed as he always has, topless. At 72 years of age, Iggy is a good metaphor for ‘Punk’s Not Dead’ appearing like a wizened version of his youthful self, his style unchanged throughout the decades. Pumping out the classics such as ‘Lust for Life’ and ‘The Passenger’ Iggy had maximum crowd participation with everyone singing along, knowing all the words. Creating a strong connection with his audience right from the outset, Iggy kept his focus firmly on engaging with his fans.

Moving off to see what Tash Sultana would bring this year, I noticed choruses of frogs chiming in the swelling waterways surrounding the festival site, adding their voices to the festivities. In the Mojo, Tash had setup her performance space in a way which made me feel like I was in her home, just hanging out, as she experimented with different loops, sounds and instruments. Laying beds for her smooth vocals to fly over, on what was briefly a moonlit night. Her laid back and intimate performance style betrays the hours of work it must take to figure out how to create such a full sound with just one person.

Dreading the thought of being stuck in a post legend traffic jam that sometimes ensues after rock royalty such as Iggy Pop has been on site, I left before the end. Seems like others had the same idea and there was a bit of a wait to get out. Fortunately the traffic plan has been revised since last year and seems to be flowing a lot better this year. Other improvements are the onsite drainage. Considering the voracity of the the rain, the site drained really well and mud was minimal. So let nothing stand in your way, put your dancing gumboots on and come out to play with all the brilliant artists performing today.

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