Live Review + Photos: Byron Bay Bluesfest – Saturday 30 March 2024

Review by Wanda Hill
Photos by Ant Ritz

Byron Bay Bluesfest

Saturday Night Bluesfest 2024

Big bands and big personalities were the flavour of Saturday night. Age is no impediment to pulling a crowd at Bluesfest. Tom Jones had the lion’s share of the festival crowd donning portable camp chairs at the Crossroads, while he sang Sex Bomb and other hits to the largest audience so far at this year’s festival. At 83, women are still throwing their underwear at him. The Blind Boys of Alabama joined him on stage for a few songs making the one man show a more collaborative experience. With that much love in the room for one man he must be able to float to his next show. An aeroplane is probably unnecessary.    

Over at the Mojo the Tedeschi Trucks Band had a loyal following enjoying a magnificent set showcasing the incredible talents of all twelve band members contributing to the multilayered and genre switching journey. Such a satisfying listening experience to hear five distinctly different and powerful vocalists. This band delivers on so many levels. Intricate and epic guitar and bass riffs, duelling drummers, rich brass section and soulful keys. If this was the only band playing for the five days of Bluesfest, it would be enough. They can do everything and more. If you missed them last night catch them tonight, 8pm at the Crossroads.

Snarky Puppy deserved a concert hall with acoustic treatment to give respect to the sonic mastery emitting from this primarily jazz/funk influenced mega ensemble. One of the special things about Bluesfest is being able to see a band like this that travels with a complicated set of instruments requiring a highly skilled audio team to set up and mix. With up to 17 members potentially on stage, three playing keys, multi-instrumentalist brass section, two percussionists, guitarists, bass, vocals etc. The unique auditory experience created by Snarky Puppy evokes cinematic and expansive opportunities for waveform adventure. A joy for anyone who loves mind bending and immersive experiences.

Local legends The Cruel Sea sparked up the night with an instrumental introduction harking back to their early days. Ever popular front man Tex Perkins arrived to great applause on the second song. His warm and swarthy vocals massaging eager ears backed by the seasoned sounds of much-loved band members. Like a good wine they are aging well with their sound only getting fuller and tastier. A festival favourite best paired with friends.

Sunday promises to be another winner with Peter Garrett and the Alter Egos, Rickie Lee Jones, Harry Manx and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals just some of the legends on the menu for tonight.