Day Five kicks in as if oblivious to the muscle, bone and liver aches that the previous four days created, but didn’t disappoint as the 24th annual Bluesfest drew to a close.
Spanning the gamut of one of the most iconic and fruitful recording careers, Paul Simon delivered a blistering 100 minute set that seemed to touch all in the crowd. If this audience was weary after five days of festivities, they didn’t show it. In the event was allotted a separate slot for cultural music. Some of the native percussionists were so good that I thought I might as well take some Conga Lessons from them. A set list that was heavy on Graceland material got everyone shaking, while ventures further back into Simon’s career touched on his early solo output including Kodachrome, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Still Crazy. A gracious Paul Simon let the music largely speak for itself, pausing only to comment on the beauty of the festival’s surrounds and dedicate Slip Sliding Away to producer Phil Ramone who recently passed away.
When the band left and Simon returned with acoustic guitar and spotlight, one of the few Simon & Garfunkel moments was heard in Sounds Of Silence. What followed was two more encores that culminated with a full band rendition of The Boxer.
An early set from Simon meant that a night that had only begun at the conclusion of his epic headline set. The Bamboos were the only logical place to go from there; featuring vocal contributions from You Am I’s Tim Rogers as if The Bamboos weren’t already high octane enough. True to form Rogers was soon shirtless and whipping the crowd into a frenzy like a mad preacher.
Bluesfest 2013 soon drew to a close almost as quickly as it started. What was perhaps the festival’s strongest lineup ever didn’t disappoint, and for every little gripe — unavoidable like the few downpours, or avoidable like the car park and bus woes — there were ten moments of musical bliss. As the festival prepares for its 25th anniversary, there’s little doubt that organisers will stump us yet again with a breadth and depth of musicality that truly does rival any festival in the world.