Live Review: Bluesfest Byron Bay 2023 – Day 3

Review by Wanda Hill
Photos by Ant Ritz Photography/Rock Shots

Last night the Crossroads became Buddy Guy’s intimate lounge room for a few hours where the many thousands gathered, were treated to a warm and humorous insight into the world of this 86 year’s young, blues legend. He warned ‘if you don’t like Blues you’re in the wrong fucking house, I’m going to play something so funky you can smell it.’ He played many of his own songs and those of other legends he has influenced, interspersed with cheeky stories. After playing Hoochie Coochie Man he observed how Hip Hop has changed the musical landscape and ‘you can say whatever the fuck you want now’ not holding back on any details with his lyrics and stories. Playing with not just his well worn hands, but his sleeve, overall front, teeth and towards the end walking right out into the the audience, letting kids play his guitar, giving old and new fans the experience of a life time. As he promised at the start of the show ‘I don’t get out here very often, so I’m going to give you the best that I got.’

Today’s line up featured deep thinkers, story tellers, masters of sound, who being the intelligent people they are realise that if you make people feel good, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say. Allison Russell’s smooth clarinet, lush vocals and stylin’ band brought the rainbow coalition message of love and acceptance from Canada. A change of pace ensued with British punk/folk singer Frank Turner, armed with just a guitar and proud politics, he immediately established a great crowd connection. The Mojo was full of loyal Jackson Browne fans appreciating his life time of songwriting and activism.

Clarence Bekker came out with a bang, dancing all over the place looking so fit while singing up a storm, I wanted to know what is this guy is eating and what is his fitness regime? Clarence Bekker Band’s opening funk number Send me an Angel got the high energy party started, awesomely accentuated by home grown Clayton Doley on the Hammond organ. Thinking Clarence’s energy would not last I was relieved when the next song Try A Little Tenderness gave him a brief chance to recover till this song also whipped up into a frenzy of more punctuated dance moves and passionate lyrics speaking of equality for black and white, boys and girls, gay or strait. Do you miss James Brown? Check this band out Monday 6pm at the Delta.

Headlining the night at the Delta stage, Nigerian Afrobeat royalty Femi Kuti and the Positive Force created an atmosphere unrivalled by any other act at the festival. Combining all the elements needed to open your mind, body and soul to ways of moving, feeling and being, not often fully explored. The Positive Force consists of an epic brass section, percussion, keys, guitar, bass, and unforgettable dancers/vocalists. Femi Kuti is the messenger, a voice for Africa and the world. Understanding issues and experiences so crucial to our development as a species. While you are having the best dance of your life he doesn’t hide from acknowledging pain and the need for empathy, using the musical platform to hit a serious note amidst the pleasure. After spreading powerful love and good feeling into the audience Femi warns ‘There is a storm coming’ drawing attention to the impact our thirst for mobile phones and electric cars is having on places like the Congo in Africa. Two more chances to be part of this uplifting experience at Bluesfest, Sunday 5pm at the Crossroads, and again Monday 9pm at the Delta.