Review by Wanda Hill
Photos by Stuart Blythe
Five consecutive days in the sunshine was a rare treat for Bluesfest regulars who have endured years of mud to listen to the incredible artists invited to perform at this world class festival. Day five felt very relaxed as the big crowds had thinned and lining up for a bite to eat or something to drink seemed almost instant in comparison to previous days. Weary stall holders still served customers with smiles and delicious concoctions but understandably they were looking forward to the event drawing to a close.
Australian acts dominated the CrossRoads on the final day of Bluesfest 2017. Busby Marou performed their original repertoire, often composed around a campfire, with the intimacy of playing with just your friends in a peaceful location. Gentle songs sung to melodic, harmonising amplified acoustic guitars demonstrated why this duo from Rockhampton, made it to number one on the ARIA Albums Chart in February of this year.
Singer Tom Busby grew up listening to his older brother’s sing alongs and invited one of his brothers mates who has a particularly good voice onto the stage. Pete Murray joined the duo to sing a cover they had enjoyed back in the day, a great surprise, very much appreciated by the audience. Kasey Chambers continued the tradition of inviting guests onto the stage when she welcomed Bernard Fanning to join her, later on in the day.
Neil Finn provided the perfect finale to what has been a exhilarating festival by performing a stunning set that gave everyone a chance to be part of the music. Massive crowd participation ensued as the audience sang along to almost every song. Continuing with the friendly storytelling banter as the bands before him had done, Neil made us all laugh with insights into his own life and the life of his good friend, bass player Nick Seymour from Crowded House who had flown out from Ireland to perform with Neil for the occasion.
Finn’s set list included every greatest hit of his own as well as favourites from his bands – Crowded House and Split Enz. The variety of songs and styles required an extensive selection of enviable guitars which were cleaned, tuned and interchanged by guitar wrangler Dougal on the side of stage. After 21 songs and almost as many guitar changes the biggest all in sing-a-long I have ever witnessed, came to an end with the Crowded House classic – Better Be Home Soon. It wasn’t just the audience that had a good time. All members of the band visibly enjoyed the experience, acutely aware of the power that music has to unite. As Neil said during one of his between song chats “there is so much bullshit in the world, music is not”.
There were other bands playing, the party did keep going but leaving on natural high with the love of a shared experience in my heart seemed the only way to end what has been a very memorable festival. Especially heart warming was the thousands of dollars donated to the Flood Appeal by festival patrons and guests including $10,000 from Patti Smith which will go to people impacted by the major flooding that hit Byron and surrounding regions just two weeks before the festival.
Bluesfest and Boomerang team you have done it again! Congratulations on producing an understandably award winning festival time and time again. See you next year for number 29.
Bluesfest 2017 Day 5 – Monday 17th April