And so it’s here: the final day of our Bluesfest adventure for another year. The legs are just holding on but with a blue-skied morning greeting us the day ahead was looking good.
Kaylene and I took the time out to try and have lunch at the iconic Byron Bay Lighthouse but with limited parking and an apparent influx of tourists it was impossible to get near. So we tried another paid parking spot close to a beach café where we found it equally impossible to get a table. We ordered extravagantly priced takeaway only for someone to grab our order by mistake. We were forced to wait longer and just dodged a parking ticket…a nice way to start the day.
The festival day started after 3.30 pm for Sandy, Tom and I (John and Steve left earlier). We spent a little time at Angelique Kidjo as we had decided to tent sit for 3 other acts to follow. And while that meant for me that I’d miss John Mayall’s full set, I was certainly not disappointed by what I saw.
There was a brief interlude to draw the winners of the Cystic Fibrosis guitars (I wasn’t one of them), with Peter Noble announcing over $48k had been raised for CF research over the festival. Some effort!
Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires were up first and boy, what a classic soul performance. Bradley changed costumes and continually told the audience how he loved us; when he performed the splits mid-song and managed to keep going to throw the mic stand away and retrieve it with the lead, then used the stand to illustrate his love of Jesus as he simulated Christ’s carrying of the cross it all made for great theatre. When his hour was over I couldn’t believe it; it seemed to be the quickest hour and my feet suddenly weren’t aching anymore. A truly religious experience is Mr Charles Bradley.
Next was Paul Kelly presents the Merri Soul Sessions, a group consisting of Vika and Linda Bull, Dan Sultan, Kira Puru, the guitarist from Even and that drummer bloke from Rockwiz. As well as a few others, including Mr Kelly of course.
What a show. One of the festival highlights for me and another hour flashed by. I could have listened to them all night as the band performed like a soul revue with revolving singers. Vika Bull’s rendition of Sweet Guy had to be heard to believed as she really brought out the darkness residing in Kelly’s tale of domestic violence written from a woman’s point of view. To hear the song performed by this powerful woman was a stirring moment indeed.
There were too many highlights to list here but needless to say if this group comes to your town, you must find some time to check them out.
The final performance for us was George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. Expecting a lengthy set and not big fans, we planned an early exit. That we stayed a little longer is tribute to the performance of this legendary act. The sound for such a huge ensemble would have been a huge challenge to try and mix right and unfortunately the sound guys struggled in this set to balance the instruments and vocals. A real shame as the players gave it everything and for a music I am not a big fan of, this proved one of the most enjoyable performances of the weekend. I couldn’t get the theme of it all but the sheer number of players all interlocking and playing together was something to witness.
And that was it. We did leave before Clinton’s set finished but that proved a wise decision as we were all tired and fully satiated with our final festival experience. The last day proved a massive winner and the reason we’ll all be looking forward to coming back next year.
A couple of quiet beers at home as John and I reminisced about Status Quo then it was all over.
CYA in 2016.