Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2022 – Day 3

By Wanda Hill

Well it’s not a dream, it is real and it’s happening again. After so long without festivals it doesn’t seem possible to see live music, five consecutive days in a row. Day three and everything is smooth. The parking and traffic situation has been sorted, the long queues are a thing of yesterday and everything just feels a bit more relaxed. Families are out with their kids, many having their first ever festival experience.

Kate Miller-Heidke was welcomed to the Mojo by an adoring crowd, calling her name and screaming wildly. She came out shining in a gold jumpsuit and flower crown looking very sweet and innocent. The candy image was quickly dispelled by her cheeky sense of humour but immediately reinstated when she sang in her uniquely angelic way. The musicians working with her were sublime and together they created a beautiful experience showcasing Kate’s incredible creativity. Great to see how Kate shapes her mouth and uses her hands to create her signature vocal sounds. Particularly stunning were the unusual and highly technical vocal harmonies. Kate’s relaxed and generous demeanour has not been dampened by the years of training and practice required to perform at this level of perfection. The only disappointment was that she was not balancing and waving around on that giant pole, like in her Eurovision performance. The big tops are big, but not that big. She was followed by other hugely talented and successful Australian female artists, Missy Higgins and Amy Shark.

Like thousands of others I was so excited to see Baker Boy at the Crossroads and witness his high energy, good vibes and great audience connection. Bringing some of that northern magic to our soggy south was a welcome breath of warmth. Baker Boy’s radiance combined with seriously funky sounds emanating from his awesome band were a recipe for happiness that swept across the crowd. Playing hit after hit, he was stoked to finally be part of the festival experience and sharing face-to-face with his many fans. A well crafted stage show, complete with dancers, ensured that every second was uplifting and engaging. Unfortunately, this was his only show for the festival. Hopefully he will be back in future years.

What Bluesfest does so well is bring artists like Cory Henry to Australia. Cory has been to Bluesfest before as part of the brilliant experimental genre crossing jazz ensemble Snarky Puppy. This time the highly acclaimed keyboard/vocalist brings his own mind blowing material to Bluesfest with his band. Cory connected with the audience straight away inviting us to feel and hopefully dance if we felt moved. And moved we definitely were. His intricate and expansive melodies found a way into every part of our bodies. Is Acid Gospel a thing? It felt like a thing when he was singing about love, heaven and hell, woven between trippy keyboard lines and thrumming organ riffs supported by steady deep bass and epic drum fills. Moving through different keys and rhythms with finesse, Cory orchestrated a powerful experience that was very satisfying to listen and dance to. Music like this is only possible through immersion and connection with the greats. Having worked, performed and produced with jazz and R&B royalty, Cory’s soul is infused with the richness of the American music scene. Experience Cory Henry over the coming days as he is playing again (yay) tonight at the Delta, 7.30 and again on Monday at the Delta, 6pm.