Fans Say 2012 Bluesfest The Best One Yet
Who stopped the rain? The driest Byron Bay Bluesfest in memory wrapped up on Monday night with prog rock pioneers Yes (of Owner of a Loney Heart and Starship Trooper fame) and funk master Maceo Parker (of Prince, James Brown, Michael Jackson fame) hitting the event's final (high) notes.
Sonically, the quality of Bluesfest 2012 headliners Cold Chisel's opening-night show set the standard for five days of great music. In fact, many in the crowd rated the standard and consistency of this year's acts the best in the event's 23-year history.
If anyone came close to matching Chisel's magical mix over the weekend it was the obviously rejuvenated, reinspired Creedence Clearwater Revival songsmith John Fogerty.
Boasting a rocking guitar style still loaded with swank, Fogerty's absolute delight to be playing his finest works again for an exuberant, appreciative audience for the first time in decades was obvious.
His Monday night show in the Mojo Tent, his second of the weekend, was an equally as skillfull but very different roots rock performance to his full-moon stand on Saturday.
It began with a start-to-finish delivery of classic album Green River, which includes the tracks Bad Moon Rising, Lodi (Low-die), The Night Time Is the Right Time and the title track, before ripping into a swag of singalong Credence classics.
Fogerty, 67, threw Susie Q and a cover of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman into the mix this time, alongside encore renditions of audience favourites Fortunate Son and Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
But wait! There was more. Hey Tonight, Born On The Bayou, Who'll Stop The Rain, Hot Rod Heart, Don't You Wish It Was True, Midnight Special, Gunslinger, Keep On Chooglin', Down On The Corner, Old Man Down The Road, Travelin' Band, Rockin' All Over The World and Proud Mary were all there too in a set list that was surely as good as it gets.
''I was gone for a long time. I refused to play these songs for years but I'm over that now, thanks Julia,'' Fogerty said in a shout-out to his wife, standing side of stage.
Fans also raved about Monday shows by Tribali and Dubmarine on the Jambalaya Stage and Canadian outfit Great Big Sea, who drew a large and loyal crowd for their ''must-see'' second show on the bigger Crossroads Stage.
John Butler Trio drummer Nicky Bomba's rousing, 25-piece collective Melbourne Ska Orchestra brought the house down with a mighty stand in the Jambalaya Tent. Regulars on the Bluesfest bill, you can be sure they'll be back by popular demand again and again.
Audiences also gave Rosie Ledet an A for her zydeco set on the Jambalaya Stage, her band's washboard player moving many in the audience to get up and dance.
Fans praised each other for observing the no-smoking in tents rule and event organisers for weather-proofing the grounds with new roads and walkways. A new system to ensure chairs are only used at the back of the main Crossroads and Mojo Tents generally worked well.
An army of 500 workers oversaw the 80,000 people who streamed through the festival gates across five days. Friday, Saturday and Sunday tickets sold out, while some 4500 punters camped on-site.
Organisers were thrilled with the number of patrons who took up the $299 Early Bird offer for tickets for the 2013 festival as they headed home, while festival director Peter Noble says plenty of this year's acts have already expressed interest in returning soon.