Bluesfest hits half-way mark with intense day

John Butler performing at the Mojo Tent at the 25th annual Byron Bay Bluesfest.
John Butler performing at the Mojo Tent at the 25th annual Byron Bay Bluesfest. Marc Stapelberg

SATURDAY was a gigantic day of headliners and a big day of new surprises at Bluesfest 2014.

Big names attracted the masses, with John Butler and Dave Matthews concentrating the most attention in successive shows that lasted almost four hours combined.

Gregg Allman and Jeff Beck also get plenty of attention at a nearby stage.

One of the earlier successes of the evening was Nigerian Afrobeat ensemble Seun Kuti and Egypt 80.

The Nigerian troupe was a standout with strong music, politically charged lyrics and a big charge of African rhythms and dance moves.

Kate Miller-Heidke performed an intimate (but crowded) gig early in the afternoon.

But the "smaller" stages were by no means less interesting.

Singer-songwriter Pasesnger busking at Bluesfest yesterday.
Singer-songwriter Pasesnger busking at Bluesfest yesterday. Javier Encalada

English singer-songwriter Passenger delighted his fans with a surprise show at the Busking Stage just before 3pm, where the performer offered the best part of his regular gig.

Funny band The Beards got a good laugh out of the crowd by singing a number of songs about… well, beards.

Clairy Browne launched a new show with unrecorded tunes and some old hits, all with a retro look and feel and choreographies to match.

Spanglish band Ozomatli had punters dancing to their Latin rhythms even after they disappeared from the stage at the end of their gig.

The band kept playing known Latin tunes (sambas and similar) from backstage for at least five minutes as the crowd demanded more music.

Food stalls and bars were also on high demand.

An organic donuts stall had a queue of more than 200 people both Friday and Saturday evenings at around 10pm.

Festival director Peter Noble estimated at noon that the last two days will be the busiest ever for a Bluesfest date.

Noble thanked the Bluesfest team for their hard work in a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the festival yesterday at the VIP Sunset Club.

Former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan and current Manager of opposition Business Tony Burke were at the ceremony.

The main difficulty faced by the Bluesfest team happened at the end of the last two festival sessions.

The Bluesfest team issued an apology to punters yesterday after revellers complained on social media of a three-hour ordeal to drive out of the festival precinct.

"We are working within the guidelines of our Consent Conditions given to us by Byron Shire Council, the RMS and an approved Traffic Consultant.

"We endeavour to deliver the most efficient exit from our car parks."

Today's Easter Sunday line-up includes sets by Erykah Badu, Michael Franti, Passenger and Morcheeba.

Topics:  bluesfest 2014 passenger

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