PERTH music lovers have had the pleasure of West Coast Blues ‘N’ Roots on their annual festival calendar for 10 years, etching everlasting memories from a catalogue of legendary artists.
This year’s milestone weekend-long celebration was no different, with an anniversary line-up fit for all generations of festival fans.
As people started filtering through the gates on Saturday, the rock and roll with soul sounds of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals called like a moth to a flame while cool vibes continued as native Fremantle performer and wife of local roots hero John Butler, Mama Kin, launched into a set featuring new songs Rescue, Give Me A Reason and I’ll Be Ready.
The dreadlocks were in full force, including on stage, when Newton Faulkner filled Fremantle Park with melodic originals including Dream Catch Me and some surprising covers, from No Diggity and Teardrop to Bohemian Rhapsody, showing his full vocal range.
Chris Isaak was his ever-charming self, entertaining with trademark numbers before adding his signature tone to songs recorded by Sun Record artists, the focus of his latest album, Beyond the Sun.
Winner of the funky beats award went to Jason Mraz, who revealed the first time he heard his song The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) on the radio was 10 years ago in Perth while returning his rental car.
The final section of the evening demonstrated that retirement is clearly a dirty word in the music industry as Status Quo, Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters and Iggy and the Stooges showed they still had it, with not only old favourites but each producing new music and being able to hold the spotlight with ease.
About 20,000 people attended the festival on Sunday, an additional 5000 from the previous day, visibly changing the atmosphere from laidback to overwhelming.
Everything seemed challenging – finding a park, walking around the grounds, even enjoying the classical riffs of Santana while free lovers humorously danced next to me – not with me – with their eyes closed.
The day seemed to peak with an upbeat performance from the Steve Miller Band, who pumped out classics like The Joker and Take the Money and Run, giving the crowd exactly what they wanted to hear.
However, as the day wore on, all the energetic young people who had been there since the morning for heart-filled performances from the likes of Gossling and Sticky Fingers were sunburnt and drunk, and all the older people who had held out for prophetic songwriter Paul Simon were tired and drunk.
I could hear rumblings from the people around me about how Ben Harper was too self-indulgent and Rufus Wainwright failed to attract their attention.
At the end of the day, the sheer number of people packed into the tiny venue made what should have been the most relaxing festival of the season a downer, with many, including myself, leaving cold, tired and frustrated trying to escape suburban Fremantle.