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Fans leave frustrated


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Paul Simon. Photographer: Peter Shewchuk Paul Simon. Photographer: Peter Shewchuk

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.

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What everyone else is thinking

matty mogan


My favourite type of live music review is the one where the reviewer focuses on the music and not the mundane parts of the day like finding a carpark. The idea of a festival like West Coast Blues n Roots is to get a whole bunch of top bands from Byron Bay Bluesfest (which runs every Easter, which is why the Freo version will never run on a long weekend I'm afraid) and put them all on one bill so fans of at least some of these bands can see them all in one fell swoop for a decent price instead of paying at least a hundred bucks a ticket for each of them. This means a lot of people will be there. If you don't feel like exerting yourself you can set up a rug at the back of the venue and chill out. If you get close to the stage you're going to be surrounded by people who are used to dancing and singing and yelling at live music shows. It's what happens when the word 'festival' is used in a concert title. Now, please tell us about the headline acts!



I thought the atmosphere on Saturday was amazing and I'm sorry to hear the crowd numbers/behaviour on Sunday tarnished the experience. I do believe Freo is the ideal place for this festival however it's fairly small relative to all the big names. I wonder if the organisers would consider running the festival over three days - i.e. a long weekend.

Lee-Anne French


I thought the Festival was fantastic and felt privileged to be able to enjoy so many high calibre acts, as well as discover some new ones. I went both days and thought the atmosphere was friendly and didn't see any drama. Whilst I agree there seemed to be slightly more drunken behaviour on Saturday night, Sunday was mellower. I got up at 4am to drive back to Margs on Monday morning for school, and I can tell you, I am still buzzing from the spectacle that was the 10th Anniversary of West Coast Blues and Roots Festival. Cold? Take a cardi, tired and frustrated, go to sleep earlier! Every one is entitled to an opinion, but have to say, me and mine were absolutely stoked with the time we had in Freo on the weekend! Can't wait for the next one...

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Friday 06 Mar 2015

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