By Wanda Hill
Bluesfest has been reborn in full glory after years of pandemic restrictions preventing the festival from going ahead. Friday’s epic line up saw the venue packed with music lover’s eager to feast on the gods of Australian rock music as well as welcoming international artists who have waited a long time to grace our shores.
The day began with local legend JK-47 rapping about what really matters, sharing his warmth and passion with fans who have waited three long years for his Bluesfest debut at the Mojo. The Regime brought the full festival funk vibe with their brass section, multiple vocalists and guitarists, nineteen members in all, having the best time. Their infectious grooves shook away any remnant lockdown stiffness and reminded us of why we come to festivals – to dance, feel good and celebrate just being alive.
The Church warmed up the Crossroads for a day and night of crowd sing-alongs in what was an all Australian affair for the Crossroads. Their familiar tunes created a sense of what life was like before the recent catastrophic events that hit the Northern Rivers region, still hosting the festival despite the many challenges faced by everyone in the area, particularly those made homeless by flooding and landslides.
Intelligent and witty Senator Briggs, charmed the Mojo with his raps and beats. If only politicians would make us dance, think and create change like Brigg’s does during his performances. He joked with the audience about getting emails from ‘constituents’ thinking he really is a Senator. Actual Senators could take a leaf out of Briggs’s book.
The Crossroads peaked capacity for The Angels. Puddles, mud and toilet stench were not deterring people from worshipping at this altar. For those of us that missed out on their call and reply favourite, 19-Twenty gave us that opportunity later in the night during their fabulously funny and entertaining set at the Jambalaya. When they payed tribute to The Angels with… Am I ever gonna see your face again? No way, get… You know how it goes.
Meanwhile over at the Delta stage Malian performers Amadou & Mariam weaved hypnotic melodies and rhythms, creating a beautiful musical tapestry transporting listeners to another place and feeling. So good to hear the sounds of Africa reverberating through the moonlit fields again.
Back for more of the Australian centric edition of Bluesfest to see powerhouse trio The Living End. So satisfying to sing ‘We don’t need no one, to tell us what to do’ along with thousands of people as the Living End played Prisoner of Society. Being the first major festival in the area for a long time, it did feel like a release of sorts and a bit like getting out of captivity.
Smooth sounds from across the Tasman were gifted by L.A.B. A loyal following lapped up their offerings and made them feel welcome. Particularly stunning were their covers of Ain’t Nobody (Chaka Khan) and Dreams (Fleetwood Mac). Blue Empress All-Stars turned up the heat with a stellar line up of seven dynamite female vocalists performing in other acts across the festival program. Arrived just in time to be blown away by Lisa Gentz from Hussy Hicks alluding to steamy times in the green room. Will be sure to catch her again over the coming days.
Highlight of the night Midnight Oil have only improved with age. Peter Garret’s vocal chords, so powerful and strong, delivered an awe inspiring introduction to their new songs and album Resist. Such a great way to be exposed to their brilliant new material which is poignant as ever and crafted with exquisite musicianship and song writing expertise. Peter connected with the local community acknowledging the recent disaster and lack of appropriate action from the government of the day. Ever skilled at meshing politics with music the spirit of enjoyment was not lost while delivering important messages and vision for a better society.
So great to to be back at Bluesfest, life really is better with a soundtrack. Looking forward to more awesome artists performing over the coming days. To see who is playing head over to the festival website and check out the program.