The final day of Jazz Fest was all about one thing: the Foo Fighters (sure they were out of place here, but then again so was Ne-Yo, so I wouldn’t overthink this “Jazz” definition). Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a fanboy thanks to my adoption of their music from an early age. So it came with great joy that today I won access to the Acura VIP area, which had eluded me in days prior. With free food, drinks and access to the front of stage area, this timing could not have been more perfect.
Speaking of timing, seeing the Foo Fighters at 3 in the afternoon, ahead of annual festival closers The Neville Brothers, was an interesting experience in itself. Even Dave couldn’t shake the habit of calling it night, as he was dripping in sweat under the hot sun. But before they took to the stage, the one and only Galactic were showing everyone how to get it done, with a little help from their friends: Trombone Shorty, Pedriogo Rodriguez, Casa Solomon and Corey Glover from Living Color all made appearances during the set, with the spectacular “Deep Down Inside Heart of Steel” that left us all wanting more.
Seemingly relieved there were people there to see them: “I’m glad we’re not going to have to play any Jazz – that shit’s hard!” – Dave walked onto the stage with a heroes welcome (as always), playing to a crowd who largely had not seen the band before – something that became obvious later in the set when there was a weak sing along to “Breakout”.
The set was a standard assortment of all their hits, crammed into two hours, with a bit less of Dave’s usual banter, and a couple of tracks they don’t normally play (along with the one and only Freddie Mercury taking his place on Taylor’s Drum Kit). And as mentioned, with the band playing mid afternoon (remember hat this is a festival that ends before the sun sets), it was a unique way to experience the iconic rock band. A very sweaty one. The set opened with an acoustic version of “Times Like These” before the rest of the band kicked in to huge appreciation from the crowd. There was also the moment when Dave hit the drums for “Cold Day In The Sun” (something he doesn’t do all that often anymore), and we all sung happy birthday to Chris Shiflett, and enjoyed covers of “Breakdown” and “In The Flesh”, alongside the always wonderful acoustic version of “Everlong” which ended the set.
The band, sweating hard, gave it their all, mentioning that playing this festival was part of an apology for missing the South during their last American tour. Though the crowd made it clear they weren’t all the hardcore fans they’re used to, Dave (with a beautiful Blue Guitar) and company won everyone over with ease, and had us all jumping along until the very end. The set went a little something like this:
Times Like These
Learn to Fly
Cold Day in the Sun
Hey, Johnny Park!
This is a Call
In the Flesh? (Pink Floyd cover)
Best of You
Happy Birthday (Mildred J. Hill cover) (to Chris Shiflett)
Breakdown (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers cover)
After the always impressive set same to a close, it was time for The Neville Brothers to close the festival as tradition dictates. With a particularly phenomenal saxophone player in Charles Neville, this was a band you couldn’t take your eyes away from, nor stop listening to. You can see where bands like the Dave Matthews Band get it all from. They call them legends for a reason.
Heading off from the main stage just before they wrapped things up, I managed to catch the sexy Sharon Jones on my way out of the event, looking all the rage in a Tina Turner-esque sparkly outfit. As you’d expect from the incredible performer, she totally owned the Blues Tent and ended what was nothing short of an amazing weekend.
Like the dozens of people we met at the festival over the course of the last few days, it’s hard to imagine not returning to this incredible celebration of music from all around the world. Though they lean towards the more classic stylings of Jazz, Blues and the more localized Creole variety, this is a festival for everyone – with enough music, food and good times to keep the energy levels soaring until the following year. Will we be back? I bloody well hope so.