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BluesFest; Revisiting Some Old Favourites

After a rather stressful and hectic morning plagued with van related issues I didn’t arrive at the festival until around 3pm – which was rather annoying as it meant I had to cancel an interview with Newton Faulkner…gutted!

Safely nestled in the coffee filled media tent I boshed out yesterdays blog, edited some pics and generally killed some time before Faulkners slot on the Mojo stage.

But instead of wandering the stages trying to shoot random bands I thought it best to fully explore the site and soak up the festival atmosphere – featured in my online gallery from the event.

Having seen Faulkner in Glastonbury back in 2008, riding the wave of success from his first album “Hand Built By Robots” I was intrigued about his new material (which I’ll admit that I haven’t heard anything of!) and how his sets had progressed.

True to my past experience Faulkner didn’t disappoint. His mix of covers, comical anecdotes and typically British manerisms (apologizing profusely for his guitar only being half plugged in for some of the opening song!) had the crowd well and truly on his side and singing along.

An obvious favourite would be “Teardrop” – the song which shot him to fame – but the rest of his set was on par. His showmanship is also superb – with random videos of himself singing along on the screens, karoke style lyrics on some songs and informing the crowd that their inspiration to sing along “is that your pirates with rabies, shouting at the barbarian hordes on the beach…who have kissed your mum…thats right…they’re mother kissers”!

His set was also riddled with some top quality covers – including his finale song, Queens “Bohemian Rhapsody” which whipped the crowd into a sing along frenzy, fuelled even more by the video of Faulkner swinging his dreadlocks around and edited like the original!

I was so impressed with the vibe of his set that I’m going to see him again at his Sunday slot – more time and higher up the bill, it’ll be interesting to see what he pulls out of his box of tricks!

Next up was a artist I’ve been rather excited about seeing again. He headlined Croydes Oceanfest a few years back, but the god awful weather and my moaning (now ex) girlfriend basically ruined the whole set for me!

I caught Donavon Frankenreiter in the Billabong store mid week for an intimate acoustic set and it got me stoked for his Mojo stage slot.

Originally the banner photo on this page was intended to be him. But on arriving in the media area I was pretty gutted to discover that he’d banned photographers from the press pit. Now I will admit now that I’ve had to curb my annoyment and bite my tongue somewhat to write this part of the article, I was about one extra beer away from not writing about him at all!

But I won’t lie, his set was pretty ace and I was surprised about the variety he has in his performance. He also seemed genuinely stoked to be playing at Bluesfest – or maybe it was the left overs from an early morning surf in Byron…the swell has been on fire the past few days!

If you haven’t heard of Donavon then you should certainly check him out – much in the same genre of Jack Johnson (he used to be on his record label) but with more of an upbeat tempo.

So due to his artistic demands I STILL don’t have any half decent shots of him, so you’ll have to setlle with some pics from the screens!

Due to the higher capacity crowd on Saturday I opted to watch the penultimate Mojo set to get a good view of the headliner. I’m glad I did. Having slightly (and possibly unfairly) written off Bueno Vista Social Club when I caught part of their set earlier on in the week I was pleasantly surprised at how well they went down – both personally and with the crowd as a whole.

The mix of salsa and laid back tunes had hips gyrating all over the tent – not bad from a band whose main member must all be pushing 70 now!

The final set of the night fell to Jack Johnson. Having already reviewed him I thought I’d enjoy the vibe of being in the sweaty bosom of the crowd, not really needing anymore photos and just wanting to enjoy his set.

True to form Jack had the crowd clinging to every word and guitar chord from the offset.

He also mixed it up a bit set wise (much to my delight) including a whole mix of songs from his catalogue, although strangely neglecting his upcoming album – only playing one song.

Much like his previous appearance he brought a few friends onto stage. I was stoked to see Donavon duet with him (although a bit gutted they didn’t sing “Free”) and enjoyed his songs with fellow Hawaiian John Cruz.

My highlight of the set was actually less to do with Jack – he got Zach Gill (from ALO) off the piano to do a rendition of the song “Girl I Wana Lay You Down” with him.

With Zach on main vocals, accordion in tow and with Jack providing the backing vocals the crowd ate it up – it’s a treat to hear live.

So after another hard day of festivalling it was back to the van. Unfortunately I was met with Glastonbury style traffic jams trying to get out of the site and didn’t get to the main road until about 2am…fun festival times all round!