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Bluesfest 2013 the best ever

Bluesfest 2013 will go down as one of the best Bluesfest's ever not just because of the headline acts, which were of course fantastic but also because of all the other great acts that played on the smaller stages or throughout the day.

There was just such a smorgasboard of talent from the first acts till the last acts that it was simply an overwhelming musical experience that has lead me on a very expensive expedition to the record store to buy albums by some of these albums I had not heard of previously.

There was just too much happening over the five days to do this review justice.


Ben Harper - Solo Acoustic

Given the fantastic reviews last year of Harper’s solo shows Harper had a lot to live up to for his solo acoustic gig at Bluesfest. It was strange to see him start his set on a piano with a new song of heartbreak but this was a followed by an astonishingly beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah which was fitting for Good Friday but from here it began to slide. One of the main complaints from the audience is that it was too self-indulgent, whilst it is fine to do a 10 minute sitar style guitar solo in a 3 hour solo set it really takes a chunk of time away from a 90 minute festival set where really people just want a greatest hits set.


Taj Mahal Trio


The Taj Mahal Trio hot from there sell out visit to Tanks in Cairns and a day trip up to Kuranda which they adored played a hot set of blues that got the crowd moving along to some classic blues and set the vibe for the rest of the evening.


Rockwiz Live

Rockwiz is something that makes Bluesfest unique it is just so much fun, full of great music and of course special guests which this year Included Steve Kilby (The Church) Tex Perkins and of course a whole bunch of festival goers, across the three days Rockwiz was on the crowd filled the Jambalaya tent.


Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff played two sold out shows here in Cairns before heading to Bluesfest and it is easy to see why he is a totally amazing performer who moves and slides across the stage like someone half his age. The crowd simply could not get enough of the reggae legend as he performed a set full of his best loved songs.


Robert Cray

Robert Cray had a hard gig at the festival playing at the same time as some of the biggest acts on the bill but this did not deter him from putting on a great show starting out with Any Time. Even though he was up against some big acts he still drew a full crowd to the Jambalaya stage which says a lot about his talent, and Peter Noble's ability to not just get the artists right but also the playing times so that at any one point there is something for everyone to see.



Rodriguez with The Break

Having missed the Oscar buzz around the movie “Searching For Sugarman” and not really having heard anything about Rodriguez I was completely blown away by this set which sounded instantly familiar yet was unknown to me, this was the first cd on my list of Cd’s to buy when I got home.

With a voice reminiscent of Don Mclean and lyrics at least the equivalent of Dylan, Rodriguez is a powerful performer and certainly moved not only me but the entire audience. You should check him out.




Nothing I can say about Santana could possibly convey the powerful and awe inspiring set he played. He is possibly the greatest living guitarist on the planet today and he moves around the stage like he is certain that he is. Backed with an incredible band I am sure this was the highlight of the festival for many.


King Cannons

Playing the first slot of the day on the main stage can be a hard gig but this was made easier for the King Cannons who had a group of about 500 fans at the stage for the start of their set. This powerful rocking band from Melbourne had the crowd up on their feet and dancing with tracks from their debut full length record The Brightest Light.

Being a Directors Choice act it goes to show how spot on Peter Noble is when choosing acts because by the time they had finished their set there must have been at least 2000 people inside the front of the tent watching and dancing along to what was one of the 10 best performances over the weekend.




Mark Seymour and The Undertow

It is great to see an Australian legend like Mark Seymour performing at Bluesfest and this was a special show as he was accompanied by his daughter who is dipping her toe in the world of music. As always from this road tested muso it was a great show and he didn’t shy away from playing his hits from his time with Hunters and Collectors.

It was a massive crowd that turned out to watch this show and I am sure this put Seymour in a terrific mood that lifted his performance from good to really something that was special.

Mark Seymour and The Undertow currently have a new album which can be bought HERE



Michael Kiwanuka


Status Quo



Beasts Of Bourbon


Tex Perkins is one of Australia’s best frontmen and being too young to have ever seen The Beasts Of Bourboun I was blown away by how powerful this band was especially their opening track Chase The Dragon. With Kim Salmon and Spencer P Jones on guitars this was a truly formidable band even if it is some twenty years after their peak as a recording band. Maybe this outing will inspire a renewal and maybe a new album????



Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters

It is easy to write off performers of a certain age as "nostalgia" performers but this is not true of Robert Plant who put on a might performance for the crowd at Bluesfest starting out with a rocking rendition of the Led Zeppelin classic Friends.

He may look older but he still has the voice and of course the back catalogue of songs, this was a show which would have satisfied fans and found a whole new audience among a younger generation.

The last 15 minutes of this set was superb with Zeppelin classic Whole Lotta Love followed by an encore featuring Bron Y Aur Stomp and the classic Rock and Roll.

The only problem with this set was the spill over of noise from Iggy Pop's set going on next door, which even got a mention by Plant himself.

Having spoken with Plant and his management during the festival there was no official word on a Led Zeppelin reunion, but I think it could be highly likely especially as a follow up to Robert Plant's biography which will be released later this year.


Iggy and The Stooges



From the first notes of Raw Power and Iggy Pop appearing on the stage, shirtless of course, like a wounded animal howling at the moon the audience knew this was going to be something special and it was. The power of this band and the onstage presence of Iggy is just so compelling that the audience was in a frenzy from the first not. Not just teenagers who were seeing Iggy live for the first time but people of all ages moshing it up at the front of stage.

This concert felt like time travel…back to the 1990’s of my youth…what a show certainly the best performance of the whole festival and maybe in my top ten of all time. Will it be the last time we see Iggy Pop in Australia? I certainly hope not.



Luka Bloom

Luka Bloom showed the power of just one man and a guitar when he appeared on the mainstage as the first act on Easter Sunday, this quiet spoken irish man with a lot of songs drew a massive crowd and enticed them with his songs and charm.

This was a special set made memorable for him starting his first song over for not liking the way it was going and his soulfull irish rendition of the Hunters and Collectors classic Throw Your Arms Around Me.

If you missed this set you missed one of the best sets of the festival a great way to start the day.

Luka Bloom has a new album out This New Morning which you can get from HERE


Rodger Hodgson


Nicky Bomba's Bustamento


Rufus Wainwright


The Lumineers


The Cat Empire

If I was having a party The Cat Empire would be the band I would have play, they are just so much fun and the crowd at Byron completely went off whether it was their classic songs or tracks off the new album.

The Cat Empire’s new album Steal The Light will be released in May and signed copies can be pre-ordered HERE


Kim Churchill

Kim Chruchill is a Bluesfest success story. The winner of the Busking competition two years ago kim returned to the main stage at Byron this year to play a full set. This was no easy feat as Churchill is currently touring the Us as Billy Bragg's support act.

It will be interesting to see where his career goes to from here...

Ben Caplan

This mad Canadian from Nova Scotia played on the small APRA stage but drew a huge crowd, a true entertainer mixing songs with stories he had the crowd entranced and a specil appearance from The Beards was truly entertaining.

Bonnie Raitt

Its a hard spot, playing before one of the true legends of rock n roll, Paul Simon but Bonnie Raitt made the Bluesfest crowd her own for the 1.5 hours she played. She of course is a legend in her own right and her songs of love and heartbreak put the crowd in the mood for the evening.

Paul Simon


WOW... Paul Simon has the songs, a great band and still an amazing voice all of this was realised within a minute of him hitting the stage with his opening track Gumboots.

He played a fantastic set with most of his classic songs represented and a very special tribute to his producer Phil Ramone who dies during the week with Simon dedicating Slip Slidin Away to his friend. You can watch that HERE

The Sound of Silence played solo acoustic was an unbelievable moment that was spoiled slightly by the music coming from the other mainstage but the final encore of The Boxer was a highlight of the weekend with 10,000 people sining along to the chorus.


Peter Noble and his Team at Bluesfest have proved again that this is not just the best featival in Australia but quite possible the best festival in the world. By any standards it certainly is the best value @ $350 for a five day ticket festival goers would have got that value on the first day.

Early bird tickets for 2014 will be avalaible soon and whilst no artists have yet been announced given it is the 25th anniversary of Bluesfest it is sure to be massive.

How Much Fun was it...take a look