Hope Estate, Hunter Valley
Saturday November 25, 2017
After attending some of the jam packed international star events in the wineries in the past, this little festival was a pleasant surprise on many fronts. There were no segregated areas so it was sit where you like, and there was plenty of room, and more importantly great views of the stage. There were minimal line ups for everything from food, to bar, to toilets, and the crowd were laid back and enjoying the music. The place really did have a festival vibe.
We arrived early and the first act, Lucy Peach, with her Indie-folk, was initially a tiny presence on the stage, but soon commanded the audience with her gorgeous vocals and her storytelling. Her voice was strong and hypnotic and although there was lots of activity with people arriving she was a joy listen to and was raw and honest.
Next in the lineup was Emmanuel Jal, South Sudanese hip hop artist, and wow what an unexpected surprise. He started his act with some typical hip hop style, but as he went on he starting fusing some African “call and response” music and he started teaching the audience a few dance steps. This guy had everyone up and moving, he owned that stage, and the audience, and was just fun fun fun.
We were then treated to the heartfelt presence of Xavier Rudd and boy did he deliver. He was in his usual style, engaging and earthy, and he was totally present with the audience, keeping everyone entranced. He played an array of popular songs spanning his albums including Follow the Sun and Rainbow Serpent. His range of instruments just further showcased his talents, with the dij featuring substantially and being a great favourite for dance. Bobby Alu was an awesome backup on the drums. The crowd were on their feet.
The Cat Empire then entered the stage with an impressive set and lighting design, and they kept everyone on their feet and it was dance dance dance. From the vocals to the horns, the percussion and keyboards and drums this band just oozed fun. The crowd were loving it and although it was the third in a row of up on your feet, no one was sitting down. The percussion and keyboards were exceptional and these guys definately delivered what was promised! These guys owned that stage and the energy and beats were pumping, and they kept it going until the last note!
Reviewer : Colette Baron
Photographer : Kevin Bull (image from Bluesfest 2016)