Bluesfest Day 3: Creedence, Folk and Rockabilly
As the Mercury rose around Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm on Saturday, bearded songsmith James Vincent McMorrow spellbound Bluesfest punters with his beguiling vocals and Irish charm.
He stood sans band, acoustic guitar in hand, and showcased his exceptional vocal ability.
Mcmorrow‘s musical likeness to Justin Vernon is almost uncanny; he’s a vivid storyteller with a voice that effortlessly moves from haunting whisper to soaring falsetto and back again.
He played songs from his debut album Early in the Morning; just released down under but hugely popular in the UK and America.
Mcmorrow was talkative between songs, stopping to tweak his guitar’s tune and joking with the crowd in a thick Irish accent. His self-deprecating humour added to his appeal; before covering Roy Orbison, McMorrow quipped that he would ‘probably stuff the song up’ as ‘it’s very hard to sing’ and Orbison’s ‘almost impossible to imitate.’
His set was much appreciated by the teeming Byron Bay crowd who swayed in time, cheered, whistled, sung and clapped throughout.
If the success of Bon Iver and Matt Corby in Australia of late is any indication, McMorrow’s indie-folk narratives will be very well received on our shores.
In true rockabilly fashion, there were two sparkly double basses on stage throughout Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot’s set, by the end of the show they were being climbed on top of and plucked upside down.
The instrumental theatrics were a highlight throughout, Setzer himself showcased his bag of guitar playing tricks-contorting into all manner of positions whilst maintaining fingers on the strings.
This was arguably the most uninhabited performance of the festival thus far- the band were clearly having a ball-it was entertainment personified.
The crowd was an eclectic mix of old and young; die hard fans who bellowed every word, and others just there to dance along to some rousing rockabilly fun.
Setzer churned out a string of hits like The Cat’s on a Hot Tin roof, Fishnet Stockings and Blue Moon of Kentucky, before being joined on stage by former The Stray Cats band mate Slim Jim Phantom, who drummed for a bunch of the Cats’ tracks.
An encore performance of Rock This Town sent the crowd into raptures; at 52 Setzer still knows how to thrill the masses.
John Fogerty’s Saturday set saw thousands of baby-boomers descent on the Mojo stage to relive the classic Creedence Clearwater Revival LP Cosmo’s Factory.
Fogerty refused to play Creedence songs for most of the 1970s and 80s after feuds with managers, record companies and band members, but thankfully now he relishes playing his back catalogue.
It was the first time in forty years an Australian audience had been afforded this privilege, and Fogerty’s display was worth the wait.
He played for a full two hours, and for the duration the 67-year-old had the crowd in the palm of his hands (which can still navigate the neck of a guitar with aplomb.)
It was a polished performance in every sense. Fogerty’s voice is as powerful as ever, and his stage presence remains commanding.
After the first 60 minutes of the 1970 album he led the audience through a myriad of huge hits; Willie and the Poor Boys, Fortunate Son, Bad Moon Rising and Have You Ever Seen the Rain.
The climax was an encore rendition of Proud Mary and Fogerty’s beaming grin proved he’d enjoyed playing as much as the crowd had enjoyed listening.