The weather had been bright and sunny until it poured on the third night of Bluesfest 2016, meaning that the fourth day – Easter Sunday – brought the familiar look of mud and gumboots to this full day of live music. Despite that, Tyagarah Tea Farm once again reminds us of the solid choice in venue this festival has made, the ground preventing too much wide-spread mud-fests all over the place, save for the Jambalaya Tent which just became a pit of wet, squelchy dirt.
The weather couldn’t keep spirits down though, as Sunday saw the festival’s busiest day yet with Bluesfest packed out for a solid line-up capped off by UB40 (Feat Ali Campbell, Astro & Mickey Virtue) on the Crossroads stage, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats on Jambalaya, Allen Stone on Delta, Raw Earth on Juke Joint (with an epic cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” nonetheless), and none other than one of contemporary rock’s most iconic figures Noel Gallagher, who took the main stage with his High Flying Birds.
Earlier in the day, one of the festival’s most talked about acts, soul outfit Con Brio, delivered almost too much energy for a dreary early afternoon, livening the crowd up via charismatic frontman Ziek McCarter who was pretty much impossible to look away from as he would dance up, down, left, and right all over the stage with conviction in his voice.
Indiana four-piece Houndmouth played their very first Australian show on the main stage and left the crowd stunned with a performance that was both earnest and playful, with the band members often rotating between instruments and showcasing the diversity they are bringing to the current indie-rock scene; it also helps that one of the band’s vocalists, Matt Myers, sounds eerily like a young Bob Dylan.
Across the field, the second appearance this weekend from music legend Graham Nash packed out the Crossroads stage, featuring an incredible crowd sing-a-long to 70’s classic “Our House”, matched only by the boundless energy later in the day at the Jambalaya stage for the last of four performances put on by The Wailers, who performed the iconic Legend in full, turning the tent into one big Bob Marley karaoke session with hit after hit, including “Could You Be Loved” and “Redemption Song”.
Shakey Graves remained a highlight of the Jambalaya stage, while blues jam band The Word attracted most of the festival to the Delta stage for the 3pm slot, a tent which saw plenty of encore performances from the first three days, including Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Fantastic Negrito, Janiva Magness, and stage headliner Allen Stone.
Modest Mouse, The Cat Empire and The Decemberists all delivered very strong, fan-pleasing sets, but it was UB40 (Feat Ali Campbell, Astro & Mickey Virtue) who would surprisingly attract the biggest crowd of the day, taking much of the spotlight off of the other stages and playing to a tent that was so full it almost spilled out to the distant food hall.
The fifth and final day of Bluesfest 2016 will feature a double-bill headline at the main stage with Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds in full with his band, which will be followed by none other than Mr Tom Jones. Encore performances will include Allen Stone and St Paul & The Broken Bones, who will both play on the now very muddy Jambalaya Stage. Other highlights of the Day Five line-up include Steve Smyth (who has a horn section with him this year), Richard Clapton, Kaleo, and The Residents.
With a huge day and night 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!
Houndmouth Set List
Quiet Man (John Prine Cover)
Northeast Texas Women
My Cousin Greg
The Wailers present LEGEND Set List
Is This Love?
No Woman, No Cry
Could You Be Loved
Three Little Birds
Get Up, Stand Up
Stir It Up
One Love/People Get Ready
I Shot the Sheriff
Waiting in Vain
Satisfy my Soul
Lively Up Yourself