Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day Four

Review By Wanda Hill
Photos by Stuart Blythe
Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day Four
Shooglenifty were a great fresh way to start Bluesfest 2016 Day 4. Their celtic flavours are not often heard at Bluesfest. A great contrast and way to refresh the ears, kind of like sniffing a coffee bean in between wine tasting. With a fiddle, banjo, mandolin, drums, guitar and bass these guys from Scotland had the audience experimenting with their best River Dance impersonations and moving in energetic ways that are not your usual Bluesfest hip swinging standard. With beautiful tunes, jigs and reels that branched out to sound almost middle eastern and esoteric at times, this band can really get you dancing. Violinist Angus Grant kept the focus sharply on the music declaring ‘we only have an hour, so we are going to dispense with the hysterical banter that goes on between songs’. See Shooglenifty perform today at the Juke Joint 4:15pm.

Easter Sunday would not be complete without a religious experience and this came in the form of The Blind Boys of Alabama. It’s impossible not to be moved by these powerful and inspirational gospel singers raising the roof with their hearts and voices. Original member and band leader Jimmy Carter has been singing with the group since its inception at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930’s. If you have come to see legends, this is them, come and feel it! The Blind Boys of Alabama at the Mojo today 5pm.

As the sun went down illuminating the cloud filled sky with beautiful colours The Wailers final set for the festival drew a massive crowd spilling way beyond the bounds of the Jambalaya. Performing Bob Marley and the Wailers most popular album Legend, The Wailers had everybody within hearing distance dancing and singing along to every song creating an incredible feeling of togetherness and belief in good things to come. Singer Dwayne Anglin urged everyone to ‘be part of the solution and not the confusion’. Even the dreaded trip to the port-a-loo was made awesome by having Could it be Love vibrating the plastic doors and blasting away any negative feeling towards the situation.

Word had gotten around that there was something pretty bizarre to check out at the Juke Joint come 9pm. It was like being transported to the set of Mad Max Fury Road for a strange version of Bluesfest in the post apocalypse. The Residents, a Trio comprising of a singer wearing a very realistic old man mask and a suit that looked like the body with no skin, and guitarist and keyboard players both wearing gas masks and powdered white dreads all creating what sounded like an opera from some bad acid futuristic hell that is extremely compelling, interesting but maybe not totally enjoyable. This is an opportunity to see some crazy theatre with cool projections on a sphere rather than the standard flat screen. The Residents present Shadowland again today at the Juke Joint 7.15pm.

UB40 were the big crowd puller for the evening with Bluesfest hosting their only Australian show. Sounding exactly how you would expect UB40’s crisp clean upbeat reggae sound emanated out into into night for the young and old gathered there to see them. The Crossroads could have been filled twice over by this jubilant audience. Surprisingly there was plenty of room behind the Mojo to witness Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds who came out and hit brilliant strait away with a mood changing, atmospheric stadium rock sound, complete with laser lights and video effects. Noel’s underplayed voice rode seamlessly over the tasteful, mesmerising and at times driving rock. Oasis fans were rewarded with a few classics such as Champagne Supernova thrown but it was Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds new original material that shone out and led me straight to the CD tent wanting more.

Photo Gallery features:
Noel Gallagher, Jackson Browne, Modest Mouse, Cat Empire, Ash Grunwald, Blackberry Smoke, Jeff Martin, Graham Nash

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