Even standing still Roy Ayers diffuses an aura of funkified strut. He transports his audience from a packed tent to the smoky intimacy of a burnt-out speakeasy. Music for him is effortless, somehow healing. The man brings the energy of funk through melodic vibraphone, which he plays with soul. The infectious locked groove of ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ feels forever trapped in its seemingly endless build. A rebellious slap of ‘Love Will Bring Us Back Together’ bass guitar rings out a heartfelt homage to departed collaborator Rick James. Ayers saves his steamiest moments for last, leaving the audience hot, sweaty and beholden.
Corinne Bailey Rae cuts a delicate demeanour on stage as she casts glimmers of pop fantasia. Brash vocal command underscores her inviting stage persona, entrancing the crowd. Accompanying this is a finely honed pop instinct. ‘Put Your Records On’ was the obvious pleaser. Responding to the crowd’s enthusiasm, Rae spins the iconic chorus section into an extended loop. Energetic flourishes of synth and clavinet set the audience off into three minutes of ecstatic dance.
Media and patrons were clamouring to catch a glimpse of celebrities, Game of Throne’s Jason Mamoa being among the many in attendance. But this may have been an unnecessary distraction. If it’s not forgotten entirely they’ll reboot Game of Thrones in 20 years or so, but they’ll never remake Buddy Guy. Serving as the template for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and just about any other guitarist to sling a guitar behind their back, the living legend enthrals. His showy licks reverberate with supernatural force.
There’s little question that The Doobie Brothers drew the night’s, if not the festival’s, most impressive crowd. Simultaneously Saint Paul and the Broken Bones limbers onto the Crossroads stage. Frontman Paul Janeway is a white Caucasian male, a little towards the heavier side. His best years might be behind him, wearing a red suit to veer away from the reality that he could potentially be your accountant. Yet his voice has pure soul essence. He bellows with a towering sense of passion. A voice so big it envelopes space itself, a sound that no recording could possibly hope to convey. He closes his set crawling on his hands of knees towards the crowd, hitting stratospheric notes all the while. The security looks confused while the crowd pours over him like a demi-god. He is tireless, fuelled by relentless energy and charisma. The band backs him with passion and enthusiasm, yet it’s difficult to reel the eyes away from that middle-aged man in rolling in red down those stairs.
Reviewer: Riley Fitzgerald
Photography: Danny Santangelo