Review By Wanda Hill
Photos by Stuart Blythe
It was an emotional end to Bluesfest last night witnessing Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds with original Beach Boys member Al Jardine and long term member Blondie Chaplin accompanied by a mini orchestra including string, woodwind and brass sections as well as drums, percussion, guitars, bass and support singer. This was part of a world tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of Rolling Stone’s declared second greatest album of all time and will most likely be Brian Wilson’s last trip to Australia. Hearing the historically important songs of the Beach Boys, live from the creators mouth was a surprisingly special experience considering that I have never particularly been a Beach Boys fan. Realising the place in history of these songs and the way they continue to influence several generations was deeply moving. The world the Beach Boys were singing about in the 60’s seems so innocent compared to the world we live in today. Brian Wilson was not looking his best but still managed to sing songs including Fun Fun Fun, Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda and Wouldn’t it be Nice with a bit of support from Matt Jardine for the sections that were no longer in his vocal range. They created a joyous atmosphere that was so infectious… maybe I’m a Beach Boys fan now just in time before this era sadly comes to and end.
As if experiencing Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds at the Mojo was not iconic enough already… then came Tom Jones! Looking and sounding fabulous at 75 years of age, he did not miss a beat or a note… still a Sex Bomb. There were some issues with the sound system just not penetrating far enough and a vast sea of people in various states of inebriation forgetting that they were privileged to be in the company of such music royalty, carrying on with behaviour best suited to the pub. As slower songs gave way to up beat dance grooves and the crowd and sound issues sorted themselves out, the set became something to remember forever. After 50 or more years in the limelight Tom Jones appears totally humble and dedicated to his craft, everyone should have a night listening to this beautiful man.
In between being totally blown away by the legends at the Mojo, Vintage Trouble at the Crossroads caught my ears and eyes as the powerful 4 piece pumped out a big blues/soul sound. Ty Taylor’s smooth voice and fun vibe was loved by the audience. He got down in amongst it all and went for a decent crowd surf. Later on Joe Bonamassa’s epic guitar licks could be heard kissing the atmosphere, calling all lovers of the Blues to his smokin’ drivin’ set.
The Original Blues Brothers Band had the honour of closing out the festival. It was surreal to hear this music live since. Pretty tired by this stage of the festival but not to tired to be totally impressed by the quality of the sound and stellar musicians. The movie soundtrack is already so good and to experience the music live in all its glory was of course, way better. They should be invited to play every year.
Massive thank you to Rhoda Roberts for bringing Boomerang to Bluesfest, such a pleasure to spend time at the dance grounds enjoying troupes from around the Australian mainland, the Torres Strait Islands and Fiji perform traditional and contemporary dances with a highlight being East Journey and Djakapurra Munyarryun bringing the spirit of North East Arnhem Land to Byron Bay. I really hope this inclusion of Boomerang at Bluesfest is here to stay.
Peter Noble once again you have organised a brilliant festival. Thank you for seeking out great acts from around the globe to share with the Australian audience. You bring us world class entertainment in a relaxed atmosphere and the venue gets better every year. We are very fortunate to experience living icons such as Tom Jones and Brian Wilson… Thank you :-)
Photo Gallery features:
Brian Wilson, Vintage Trouble, Joe Bonamassa, Irish Mythen, Richard Clapton, Russel Morris, Taj Mahal, Vintage Trouble
Click image to enlarge