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Live Review: Bluesfest Day Four (Sunday, 9 April)

on April 10, 2023 No comments
Jess Martyn

Day four of Bluesfest was another massive day of talent punctuated by the classic Bonnie Raitt

Crowd participation was just as central to Mavis Staples’ performance as her genre-defining voice. Even early numbers like Handwriting on the Wall had the air of an elder giving a masterclass, backed by some of the most enthusiastic supporting vocalists one could hope to find anywhere. They closed their eyes and raised their hands like they were in a church service, matching Staples herself for enthusiasm. As she said to the crowd, “first, you’ve got to drop your seatbelt and then just let yourself get loose. If you get loose, you are guaranteed to have a grand time. If you wanna ride, you’d better board this train now. This train is bound for glory.” 

Amongst many set highlights, the Respect Yourself duet between Staples and her guitarist was a standout, second only to the gospel perfection of Will The Circle Be Unbroken with guest stars, Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne

Bonnie Raitt at Byron Bay Bluesfest on the Mojo Stage (first show - Day Four) April 9, 2023
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Bonnie Raitt performing her Grammy-winning single “Made Up Mind” with its writers The Bros Landreth at Bluesfest Byron Bay, Australia - April 9, 2023
Bonnie Raitt performing her Grammy-winning single “Made Up Mind” with its writers The Bros Landreth at Bluesfest Byron Bay, Australia - April 9, 2023

Finally, as the set was due to finish, Staples simply raised her hands and left the stage as the band played her out – class until the very end. 

Mavis Staples had left the stage buzzing with the energy of a true Queen, and Bonnie Raitt was quick to pick it up and run with it. Ready for her solo moment after several supporting performances, Bonnie was not shy with her music or with her political views, looking perfectly at home on the stage as she dedicated her performance of We Used To Rule The World to “all the fools running for office” in America. 

Raitt & Raitt: A Musical Partnership Long Time Coming

Raitt carried the same fabulous edge throughout the performance, with highlights including the dance number “No Business”, full of attitude until the very last note, and Blame It On Me, a tune full of passion, memorable moments on the organ and sultry vocals. Later in the set, Love In The Wintertime was an ode to the glorious April weather, giving Raitt the opportunity to switch to the keys. “We have played here in the rain and in the smoking hot muggy heat, and this is just perfect,” she said, and by the end of her set, it was all Byron could do to hope for many more repeat performances. 

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