Day One Thursday
Surprise packet of the day, a tall thin guy with big attitude, great songs and some serious stage presence. His guitarist was one of the most disciplined players I’ve seen, waiting till the end of the 60 min set to display all of his chops in the last song.
Huge set from a master sax player, two drummers, trombone and flute/soprano. Had the place bouncing and interestingly about 5000 kids who were there for Kendrick Lamar that had probably never heard live horns before.
Cold War Kids
OK, I really thought they'd be better, was a bit disappointed. The vocals in so many of their tunes are so strong, yet this performance seemed to be lacking something.
The Saturday night headliner put on a preview sugary his neo soul with flashes of brilliance and more costume changes than Beyonce.
Stellar. I’d seen them in 2013 and there’s no doubt that these guys are one of the best touring blues acts getting around. Derek Trucks is a master, and Susan is no slouch herself on guitar, she has pipes that belie her “mum next door” look. If you ever get an opportunity to see this band, you certainly should.
This woman can sing! Huge voice with the interesting combo of her on guitar, drummer and baritone sax. A mate of mine has been at me to see her and I'm glad we did.
Went along after seeing her on later with Jools recently, unsure what to expect. Well this girl from Ohio is a powerhouse, just puts everything she has into it, leaves nothing on the stage and doesn't give a rats what anyone thinks, to the point of pouring water all over her head resulting in smeared mascara. "Who cares we are here to play for y'all", and they did!
Saw two songs, he's still in fine vocal form but the acoustic electric duo thing didn't really do it for me so we moved on.
Second surprise of the day, I always equated pedal steel with country, these guys add it to Hammond, Moog, drums and guitar and some groovy stuff is the result.
Great band of players who did tracks off their latest blues album. Steve also in fine voice and playing Australian made mandolins to boot. The crowd pleaser was Copperhead Road, although a bit disappointing for him to see quite a notable mass exit after that tune, there’s way more here than one song people.
St Paul and the broken bones
I'd read the write ups, and kind of knew what to expect but just unbelievable. A cross between the Commitments and Van Morrison. I don't know what it is about big voice, horns and Hammond but it just moves me to the core like many other genres don't. The buzz that this lower billed band created around the festival was huge “have you seen these guys, your really should” was very common in conversation between punters.
Mick Fleetwood Blues Band
How refreshing it was to see these guys put some blues credibility back into the festival after that Kendrick Lamar nonsense on day one. Lots of old Fleetwood Mac tunes including Black Magic Woman (had no idea it was a FM tune) and some ripper dancing by the crowd for most of the set. Mick is such a statesman, they ended with Albatross and Mick saying his farewell with "be kind to each other".
Emma Donovan and the Put-backs
Scheduling conflicts, the rock n roll excuse for everything meant we only saw the end of their set and what we saw was very good.
You know, I've read a lot recently about the lack of women in music. One thing that exists here is women with big voices in spades. Ladies, sing from your belly, write good songs, and like Janiva and all the others here you will get a gig. Lots of her songs had an 80s Rock influence, but in a good way. Great band, great songs, great singer.
After seeing him previously we went back for a second look, just as good, great entertainer.
St Paul and the Broken Bones, take two
I've seen so many shows over the years, literally thousands. I don't place new performances in my top ten often and I thought yesterday's show was great, but today, this band and this frontman redefined what live performance means to me, the pipes on this bloke are huge, and he does the James Brown-esque theatrics with his own flair.
It's been 30 years since I saw someone climb a speaker stack, that was Doc Neeson at the drive. Today these guys defined a gold standard, it was compelling, a performance you just don't see often, the place was electric, it was 3 pm and it might as well have been 1am in the best venue on the planet, yes people, I'm gushing, it was actually that good.
After yesterday we just had to catch her again, as her show kicked off a huge thunderstorm hit, with water pouring in dangerously close to the band, the mixing desk and a lot of punters, great show, great singer, great band and she finished off with Khias "my pussy and my crack" while asking "is it too rude"… such an entertaining woman is Elle.
Caught a bit more of this great band, awesome.
Even better than yesterday despite Derek Trucks having a cut up finger and a broken string!
I must admit, I'd not heard much of Joe before he did some stuff with Jimmy Barnes, so I guess it's no coincidence Mahalia Barnes was part of the 3 backing vocalists tonight. It's so good to see such a huge response to this band with horns and a Hammond player who played on Stevie Rays double trouble album. Some people say blues is formulaic, dare I say boring, but Joe and his band delivered a clinic in how it's done to a big room, and did the room respond in a big way!
First up today was a little disappointing. He has a really good thing going on with guitar, looper, kick and tambourine on the other foot. A lot of these guys who play mainly on their own never experience playing with a rhythm section and as a result have this fluid idea of what time is. I find this hard to listen to and after he engaged some weird distorted vocal effect that was it for us. After 4 days of incredible musicianship here, I just felt it could have been better.
If Michael Jackson went funk instead of pop it would be Con Brio. An awesome band including a trumpet player who has more energy than the energiser bunny. He's upstaged however by the frontman who is a great singer and moves all over the place in what are some gymnastic capers of almost Olympic standard.
Lots of people talk about concerts as "just like the record" Jacskon tonight was actually better than the record, impressive for a guy who must be pushing 70.
I thought this would be OK, I confess I was never a big fan. She came out to a huge welcome from the punters and the first song was kinda shaky. Second song in and she'd warmed up and continued hit after hit in massive voice and showed some pretty impressive guitar chops, closed out with "bring me some water" and brought the house down. Overall was way better than I expected and one of the highlights of the day.
Good is how I'd describe UB40. Good band, good harmonies. I really hoped that he'd do a few old ska numbers, but after an hour of essentially the same reggae beat we'd had our fill and passed the dutchie on the left hand side.
I'd heard some of him before, saw one song on the way out, now on the list to catch tomorrow.
Richard reminds me of Mick Molloy, and in a sea of polished acts this week he looked like he was here to lay a concrete floor. Years of playing the pub circuit shows a bit of insight into who he is, it was refreshingly honest and despite him fumbling around for picks in his pants his young band brought his songs to life in a great show.
Another surprise pick here after stumbling on them last night, funky extended major chord tunes with shades of songs in the key of life by Stevie Wonder. Bought the cd.
St Paul and the Broken Bones
I've gushed enough over these guys, there's nothing else to say.
If James brown and little Richard had a kid, It would be thus guy. Despite the fact that the tunes were awesome, the theatrics were unreal, including stage diving off the mixing desk and being carried by the crowd 50 metres back to the stage. Pure entertainment delivered with energy.
Watched 5 songs. After his grand final performance I expected good things. Band was lacklustre, song choice was poor. We bailed.
The Original Blues Brothers band
This band was billed wrong, sure, they played the movie soundtrack. But these players are so much more than a movie. Steve " the colonel" Cropper defined much of the Stax records sounds and co wrote a lot of the Stax/Volt tunes. Sure, Duck Dunn was missing, but band leader Blue Lou Marino on sax was fantastic, I stood in awe for two hours while the big crowd went nuts. I just took it all in, my wife said I was like a kid at the circus.
My feet hurt, I have no cold beers and I'm stuffed… Loved every minute.
By Nigel Bourn