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WEST COAST BLUES & ROOTS FESTIVAL – DAY TWO, Fremantle, 24 March 2013

| 23 April 2013 | Reply

Fremantle Park, Fremantle
Sunday 24 March 2013

By Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Maree King

WCBR Logo 2013

There’s little better than hearing amazingly talented artists playing their best songs on a beautiful sunny day in such a friendly, agro-free environment, and after such a flawless day of magnificent and moving music on Saturday, expectations were high for Day Two of West Coast Blues & Roots Festival’s Tenth Birthday special weekend edition, and collectively the artists on show did not disappoint, even though Day One takes the prize by a whisker as far as 100% ROCK MAGAZINE was concerned.

West Coast Blues & Roots Day Two - Jimmy Cliff by Maree King 100 Percent Rock Magazine  (1)

Family obligation kept us from WCB&R until early afternoon, but from all reports THE DOMNICKS rock n’ soul explosion went down a right storm in the Big Top and their Seventies-ish Faces/Stones swagger could easily have sat much higher on the bill.

A little later Aussie alt-country upstarts GRAVEYARD TRAIN and BROTHERS GRIMM clashed set times on the main and Big Top stages respectively.  From the all-too-brief snippets 100% ROCK MAG caught they were both serving up their A-game, with GT the more countrified of the two; BG a darker, more volatile rocking proposition.  Great stuff, both.

THE STEVE MILLER BAND took no prisoners with a greatest hits set featuring just that:  great hits like Jungle Love, Take The Money & Run with it’s Rocky Mountain Way-reminiscent riff and Abracadabra which proved impossible not to sing and sway along to.  Starting strong, the pace slowed with slightly pedestrian takes on Bobby Bland’s Further On Down The Road (covered on Miller’s recent Bingo album) and Ooh Poo Pah Do, before a solo acoustic bracket of Wild Mountain Honey, Gangster Of Love and Dance Dance Dance got proceedings back on track.  69 year old Miller showed no sign of his famous grumpyness, and was amiable and chatty throughout, and with a slide to home base including classics Jet Airliner, Space Cowboy and Rock n’ Me he could do no wrong.  An encore of Swingtown and The Joker seal the deal as his hips wiggle and the dancers jiggle.  The best surprise set of the weekend.

MICHAEL KIWANUKA’s fittingly bluesy and rootsy trio backed up his stylish guitar and vocals under the Big Top and with a Ben Harper-esque edge to his voice and a touch of reggae to his music.  The tightly packed but intimate crowd let their excitement show, especially after the soul-filled slow groove of What Will It Take To Believe In Love.

There’s a weirdly disconcerting half hour lull when both stages are inactive before SANTANA takes a few runs at his fretboard and excitement levels go back through the roof as their latin-infused jazzy rock n’ roll takes control.  A blistering Black Magic Woman and Oyo Como Va warm the sun-drenched crowd even further, before Carlos – a Sixties hippy if ever there was one – tells us, bizarrely, to “keep the women happy, else nothing’s happening”.  Although it’s a pretty random un-PC sentiment it seemed well-intentioned amongst some of his other ‘peace, love & understanding’ chats and was received in kind.  A joyous and jubilant Smooth returned to the band’s Latin roots, leaving its FM radio trendiness at least partially behind through an extended rocking workout.  Returning to the stage for an encore wearing a stripy beanie straight from the pages of Dr Seuss, Santana pulls the band’s kids onstage to shake maracas and hit congas whilst he blasts out another insane solo to Soul Sacrifice and we’re reminded – as if we needed to be – that this guy was at bloody WOODSTOCK!!!  Legendary.

BONNIE RAITT’s people start off by saying there’s to be no photos:  they want us to remember the gig, which seems an old-fashioned and futile concept, but the crowd respect the ruling, at least for the first half of the show.  Raitt herself, resplendent in deep green bedazzled shirt and her bouffaint red hair splashed with a shock of grey, is playing wonderfully, but seems surly and stiff to start, throwing foul looks at her crew, especially when a brief squeal of feedback interrupts her opening number.  She melts a little as the crowd whoop and holler her along, introducing her band (Leo Sayer lookalike guitarist GeorgeMarinelli, keyboard player Mike Finnigan who played on Electric Ladyland, Drummer Ricky Fataar and James ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson on bass duties) and launching into one of her best known tracks, Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About.  After being handed the wrong guitar for a take on Dylan’s Million Miles, she laughs the error off and applied lipstick, telling the band to start without her (and they do).  An almost solo Angel From Montgomery sent chills up the spine with it’s fragile beauty.  Perched atop a stool sans guitar, Raitt has nothing to hide behind for I Can’t Make You Love Me, her voice riveting over this slow shuffle.  Closing with the Elvis tune I Ain’t Asking Much Of You, Raitt plays a killer slide solo and is notably smilier than when she first appeared.

The blues guitar and mouth harp have a long and celebrated relationship, and over on the main stage BEN HARPER showcased some stylish bluesy rock tunes with classy harp from veteran CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE.  Harper is restrained on guitar, letting Musselwhite blow and blow to great effect, especially on the Memphis Minnie classic (later appropriated by Led Zeppelin) When The Levee Breaks.  The interplay between the two is a bit magical, evoking chugging train sounds one minute and riffing grandly the next.

JIMMY CLIFF and nine-piece band, dressed in red and black outfits resembling Thriller cast-offs, made the stage their own from the first note of You Can Get It If You Really Want.  Cliff is the liveliest fella you’ll see on a stage: over the top, he kicks, swings & dances, obviously thrilled to be here, and the packed tent positively bristles with excitement throughout his magic set.  Many Rivers To Cross show the pop singer in him, and he “re-enacts” a quick scene from The Harder They Come movie to great comic effect before delivering the hard reggae title track and the glorious I Can See Clearly Now from the movie Cool Runnings.  It’s a celebration, brilliantly realising the joyousness of pop reggae in an almost evangelical fervour, and a near-ethereal hour of brilliance and dancing for everyone in the sweaty tent.  A bongo laden Rivers Of Babylon and a singalong to Wild World are moving, and the band desperately want to keep playing but are told no emphatically by the stage manager.

PAUL SIMON meanwhile, already owns the main stage where a huge crowd lap up hits from his solo and Simon & Garfunkle days.  “Really happy to be here, beautiful night”, he says before launching into a riveting 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and So Beautiful Or So What.  It’s the music which matters most to Simon rather than chit chat, and his set is amazing from start to finish.  Mother & Child Reunion is introduced as Jimmy Cliff finishes up on the side stage, as being inspired by his song Vietnam.  Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard followed and we’re in the presence of one of the truly great singer/songwriters.  Slip Slidin’ Away is West Coast Californian soft country rock, and songs from the megaselling Graceland album such as opener Gumboots, You Can Call Me Al, Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes and Graceland all getting the close-to-20,000 strong crowd dancing and singing in raptures.

WILCO closed the weekend’s entertainment with an excellent set in the Big Top, though most were content to stay on until Paul Simon finished his crowd-pleasing set, or left a little early, worn out from an incredible weekend of incomparable music.

Set List: Steve Miller Band

Jungle Love
Take The Money & Run
The Stake
Abracadabra
Further On Up The Road
Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma
Cal Cal Calculator
Ooh Poo Pah Do
Serenade
Wild Mountain Honey (solo acoustic)
Gangster Of Love (solo acoustic)
Dance Dance Dance (solo acoustic)
The Window
Fly Like An Eagle
Jet Airliner
Space Cowboy
Rock n’ Me

Swingtown
The Joker

Set List: Santana

Toussaint L’Overture
Love Is You Love Is Me
Black Magic Woman/ Gypsy Queen
Oyo Como Va
Maria Maria
Foo Foo
Incident At Neshabur
Smooth
Dame Tu Amor

Soul Sacrifice
Bridegroom

Set List:  Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite

I Don’t Believe A Word You Say
Get Up!
Blues Overtook Me
Don’t Look Twice
When It’s Good
I’m In I’m Out And I’m Gone
Blood Side Out
Homeless Child
I Ride At Dawn
I’m Going Home
When The Levee Breaks
Long Legged Woman
You Found Another Lover
All That Matters Now

Shane

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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