The energy was different in the air for Day Two of the 27th annual Bluesfest; compared to the festival’s first night, the crowd was much more relaxed, more in-line with a traditional Bluesfest audience, arguably because those who were only there to see Kendrick Lamar on the Thursday hadn’t returned for more. That or everyone was just exhausted from a zesty first day which saw some stunning performances from the likes of Kamasi Washington, D’Angelo, and of course, Kendrick. For Good Friday, headliners included City and Colour and The National on the main Mojo stage, both acts putting on very fine-tuned, fan-focused performances with some of the best set lists seen from either act, maintaining the strength of good, powerful songwriting that defined many of the sets throughout the day.
Early on in the day there were a few surprises (Kasey Chambers joining Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges on the Delta stage) and a lot of brilliant covers, including Elle King offering up covers of “Oh Darlin'” (The Beatles) and a set-closing dual cover of “I Can’t Feel My Face” (The Weeknd) and “Jealous” (Nick Jonas), bringing a perfect blues vibe to the pop hits. Later on in the day saw Nahko & Medicine for the People incorporate various covers (“No Diggity”, “No Scrubs”, “Paper Planes”, “Thrift Store”, and “Get Up, Stand Up”) into fan favourite “I Mua”, as well as the mind-blowing St Paul & The Broken Bones rip out a brassy version of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” by The Beatles.
Originals are what really ruled the day though, and the absolute power of great songwriting was best shown through fantastic hours spent with the likes of Graham Nash (who had famous guitarist Shane Fontayne with him), Archie Roach (who put on a performance for the 25th Anniversary of iconic record Charcoal Lane), and the aforementioned The National, the top-billed headliners of the day who encouraged the sing-a-long moment of Bluesfest so far with songs like “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and “I Need My Girl”, and also revealed that they have been writing new material while in Byron Bay.
The U.S five-piece were preceded by City and Colour, with Dallas Green leading the crowd through a heart-warming, soulful 14-song set (full set list below) and also revealing that D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” changed his life in ways he never thought were possible, before giving a sincere thank you to Bluesfest for putting him on the same stage as the neo-soul legend (who performs a two-hour headline set on Saturday).
As Graham Nash said during the first of two sets (he also plays at 2:45pm on the Sunday): “There are two rules to being a musician – 1. be as honest as you can; 2. reflect the times in which you live”. It’s safe to say that every musician that performed on Good Friday stick close to these guidelines.
With a huge three days and nights still to come, the AU is going to be bringing you more coverage from Byron Bay in interviews, reviews and photo galleries! Stay tuned and follow #AUxBluesfest on Instagram/Twitter for live updates!
Graham Nash Set List
I Used to be a King
This Path Tonight
Myself at Last
Teach Your Children
City & Colour Set List:
If I Should Go Before You
Hello, I’m in Delaware (Live Version)
Lover Come Back
We Found Each Other in the Dark
The Grand Optimist
As Much As I Ever Could
Body in a Box
Headline image of City and Colour by Andrew Wade for the AU review.