BluesFest Day 5 – The Final Day

The final day and by George it was a long one. I rose shortly after 6am and started to strike camp, cursing the rain when it started and smiling when it stopped. 2hrs later and the car was packed and I made my way over to where Bronwyn and Amy were camped to help strike their camp and pack all their gear into the car and for the rain to stop. Shortly after 9am we were driving into town, where I checked in at the YHA where I would stay that night and a visit to Woolies to stock up on half-price Easter eggs and food for the mission we had ahead of us. By 10am we were in the line and busy chatting to the people in the line who were also going to be Front Row Bandits for the day or who we would collectively refer to as our family and making sure people didn’t push into the line because pusher-inners are never tolerated. 11:30 and those who were not carrying the bags made the dash and spread out along the front barrier whilst those of us who were carrying the bags walked briskly to the tent. After a toilet trip was made we all started the long day of drinking the bare minimum because the tent was way more packed at noon than it had been the other days and each and every person wanted to be as close as they could to the front.

1. Timmy Curran.
Another pro-surfer turned singer-songwriter, all that salt-water must put songs in their brains. He reminded me of Paul Greene in his stage presence, very much “man, I can’t believe I am here, pinch me please”. Great opening act for the final day. I reckon he will become a BluesFest regular in the next couple of years.
Timmy Curran

2. Piers Faccini.
I really liked this guy but I think it was poor programming to put him as the 2nd artist on the last day and should have either been later on in the day or on an earlier day in the festival as on the whole his music was laid back and after a couple of songs most people sat back down and conserved energy for later on. This guy has so much potential and would love to see him at a better time next time.
Piers Faccini

3. Flogging Molly.
OH MY GOSH! These guys were incredible. Loved them. Similar to the Dropkick Murphys in that they play Celtic-Punk but still very different, more folky. Couldn’t get enough of these guys and still can’t today. When they started playing If I Ever Leave This World Alive, I instantly knew that that is a song I want played at my funeral. The other song I know I want is Dropkick Murphys doing Amazing Grace. You knew that you were not getting your run of the mill BluesFest band when the roadies came on and were placing the drinks round the stage, no bottles of water or just one beer but more like four Guinness on this amp, some more on that one etc. It was classic and Nathan Maxell the bassist was showing his true colours, he had to be half-cut when he came on stage and I have no idea how he managed to play and sing and scull four Guinness. I had respect for him.

You can watch a Flogging Molly concert from July 2006 at Paradiso Main Hall, Amsterdam on FabChannel (which is a great site for watching concerts, they have a great interface and 100’s of great concerts)

Flogging Molly 3 Flogging Molly 6 Flogging Molly 5 Flogging Molly 2

4. The Waifs.
The Waifs, where to start. One of the main reasons I went to the BluesFest was to finally see them live and by george was it worth it. Like many Australians I first heard them when their song London Still was getting serious airplay on Australian radio and they then went on to win four Arias for the release London Still came off Up All Night. After that I started to explore their other songs and very quickly became a huge fan. With songs such as Bridal Train to Lighthouse to The Waitress and scores others, I was hooked. The Waifs write songs that are 130% pure Australian. Songs that every Australian can connect to and scores of other people around the world also. They played a stack of new songs which was really cool and a whole stack of old ones πŸ™‚

Josh, Dave and Vikki 1 Josh, Dave and Vikki 2 Vikki Donna of The Waifs Josh Cunningham 2 Dave on the Snare Donna, Josh and Vikki

The Waifs have just returned from a two year break to have kids and write new songs. Through out the set, Vikki and Donna could be seen looking into the wings and giving a little wave to respective kids. One little boy however was not content to watch Mum from the wings and escaped the clutches of his watcher, made his way onto to the stage, picked up a tambourine and joined in for a song. Which won quite a few aww’s and cheers from the audience.
Donna Simpson and Frankie

5. Missy Higgins.
Going into Day 5 I wasn’t much of a Missy Higgins fan and I left the festival really loving her. Her debut album The Sound of White was flogged to death on the radio, which is probably why I wasn’t that fussed (it stayed in the top 100 charts for over two years!!). Hearing it all live, wow. I came home and now Andrea and I both have tickets for her show in a couple of weeks to promote her new album On a Clear Night.

Missy Higgins 4 Missy Higgins 1 Missy Higgins & Josh Cunningham Missy Higgins 6

The last photo was taken during either during Scar or The Special Two, to which Missy forgot the lyrics twice or perhaps even three times which made everyone crack up as we were all standing there singing it, whilst she was playing the piano and after a couple of restarts she was able to sing again which was a crack up. Really looking forward to her show in a couple of weeks. In the meantime you can listen to all the tracks off the new album on her myspace page

6. Taj Mahal.
Ben Harper had requested that Taj Mahal “open” for them and man they were great. Real Blues with a capital B and plenty of soul mixed in. Loved how he would say that such and such a song was for all the ladies with critical mass in their back field. Lol.
Taj Mahal

7. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals and Special Guests (Bonnie Raitt, John Butler, Piers Faccini and Jack Johnson).
Ben and crew possibly deserve their own post because man, I could have died happy at the end of that set. 2.5hrs of sheer musical bliss.

The highlight would have been to when he sang Where Could I Go up on the speaker stack by himself to a tent of 15 000 people. Wow. The girl beside me was crying, it was really quite emotional, I was blown away by it. The photos only show half of it.

Ben Harper 11 Ben Harper 12

Setlist is as follows
Well Well Well (w/Bonnie Raitt)
Dressed In Black (w/Bonnie Raitt)
Jah Work/Exodus
With My Own Two Hands
Ground On Down
Waiting For You
Sexual Healing
Steal My Kisses
Diamonds On The Inside (w/ John Butler)
Where Could I Go (just Ben and his voice, no mike, no band, no nothing)
Masters Of War (w/ Piers Faccini and Jack Johnson)
Burn One Down
Black Rain
Get Up, Stand Up
Better Way

Ben and Bonnie.
Ben Harper 1 Ben Harper 3

Ben Harper's special friend #1

Ben and Jack
Ben Harper 13 Ben Harper 14

Leon Mobley – This guy rocked and he knew the crowd was loving him and played that.
Ben Harper 16 Ben Harper 2 Ben Harper 17

Juan Nelson
Ben Harper 8

Ben, he truly is a special person.
Ben Harper 6 Ben Harper 4 Ben Harper 10 Ben Harper 7 Ben Harper 5 Ben Harper

At the end, there was no time for an encore due to the curfew the festival has πŸ™ As they were leaving Ben said something along the lines of “Thank-you, Byron has given me and this band a present that will take a lifetime to open”. He is widely regarded as the “patron saint” of the festival and the BluesFest is credited with making him as well known and popular as he is in Australia.
Ben Harper 18

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