My Morning Jacket, Lucinda Williams and Cold Chisel kick off a massive Bluesfest Byron Bay 2012.

With the sun shining and the crowd numbers strong (though a decline from the heavyweights that comprised the 2011 lineup, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Grace Jones et al), Bluesfest reminded the crowd what it’s all about: the music, the good vibes and the experience.

The Doley brothers – favourites of Bluesfest – kicked the day off with their dueling keys project The Hands. Another festival favourite, and New Orleans Jazz Fest headliner Trombone Shorty gave fans something to cheer for early in the day, as did the fantastic Ziggy Marley. Shorty will return to the main stage later today. Nick Lowe and Alabama 3 (who performed “Woke Up This Morning”) continued giving the early arrivals plenty to choose from.

Cranking through a 75 minute set (though advertised at 90), My Morning Jacket jammed like there was no tomorrow, showing the crowd why they are one of America’s most respected touring bands. Single “Holdin On To Black Metal” proved popular and was a highlight of the impressive set.

Closing out the night were festival headliners Cold Chisel with a blistering two hour set. Barnsey and friends were in top form as they churned out a hit filled set: “Bow River”, “Khe Sanh”, “Forever Now” and new songs like “Everybody”. Lucinda Williams served as an alternative to the headliners, with the veteran rocker playing fan favourites “Drunken Angel”, “Fruits of my Labour” and more, sounding in top form, though noticeably using lyric sheets (or what we assume to be).

Also on display today were Benjalu, Canned Heat, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Kooii, Mick McHugh, John Hiatt and The Combo and more… John Fogerty, Earth Wind and Fire, Crosby Stills and Nash, Yes, John Butler Trio and many more will make up the rest of the annual five day extravaganza. Stay tuned got our reviews of the rest of the week kicking off over the weekend.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.