Day three of Bluesfest — traditionally one of the festival’s big days — didn’t disappoint in 2013 with breathtaking headline slots from Robert Plant and Iggy and the Stooges.,
While Beasts of Bourbon heated things up for a down and dirty night of rock at Crossroads, Status Quo played Mojo. Though I can’t confess to witnessing the show in person, a thousand all-too-easy jokes about whether they’ll dedicate ‘Down Down’ to all the Coles shoppers in the crowd seemed to manifest themselves with Status Quo tour shirts proudly stating ‘Presented by Coles’, and just enough novelty red hands to make you wonder exactly what goes through some people’s heads. Back at Beasts of Bourbon, Tex Perkins’ reunited band, were on fire delivering their namesake bourbon drenched blues and rock.
The Blind Boys of Alabama make the trek out almost every other year and while there’s no denying the awe-inspiring nature of their shows, with a basic show that remains unchanged, the experience is easily one that anyone who has seen them before can skip.
Robert Plant perhaps had folks’ tongues wagging more than anyone else of the day. Though delivering more than a sprinkling of Led Zeppelin throughout a 14 song set, his current Americana band the Sensational Space Shifters gave punters a set that was somewhere in between faithful renditions and reimagination. Instead with a lower key band than if Plant were touring with Led Zeppelin or studio musician equivalents, the show’s true focus was on his stunning vocals that betray his 64 years and a hard-lived life.
A well-beyond-capacity Mojo stage yielded one of the key problems with Bluesfest’s circus tent format. With sound muffled beyond the edges of the tent it’s very easy to simply miss out on the full experience if you aren’t there early enough to stake your spot. No one would ever in a million years suggest that Bluesfest gets ‘smaller’ name headline acts, but it’s perhaps time to rethink the tents in favour of at least one open air stage where anyone and everyone can get a spot and see. Bluesfest proved during the heavy downpours this year that the drainage work they’ve performed on the Tyagarah site has made mud nearly non-existent within the festival grounds, so tents don’t see to be the necessity they have been at the previous two festival homes that were so prone to flooding.
Meanwhile at Crossroads Iggy Pop delivered a show that bordered on manic. Faithfully backed by The Stooges, Iggy Pop yelled, screamed and contorted his body as the crowd went wild. In trademark fashion, he invited a good portion of the crowd to dance on stage, before taking a break backstage while brutish security guards belted a few more eager fans into leaving the stage.
Wilco’s first of two sets — perhaps too early in the day and at a stage too big for the sort of intimacy that Wilco thrives in — was beautiful and moving, proving yet again that this understated band packs a punch that its simple Americana vibe betrays. A moving California Stars left the crowd in near silence, while Heavy Metal Drummer — perhaps the closest thing Wilco have come to a hit in Australia — got the crowd going as the show closed.