LEGEND: Robert Plant pulled in the crowds to the Mojo tent.
LEGEND: Robert Plant pulled in the crowds to the Mojo tent. Jojo Newby

The legends that came to do battle at Bluesfest

LAST weekend's Bluesfest 24 was a chance for music legends such as Paul Simon and Robert Plant to maintain their godlike status and newcomers such as Melbourne's Saskwatch and Canada's Ben Caplan to serve notice of big things to come.

There were also tidy sets from every guitar trainspotter's favourite, Wilco and the revelatory experience of Allen Stone's Monday afternoon soul revival set on the Jambalaya stage.

Despite the heat, he turned us all into hip-swaying believers; particularly with his spine- tingling version of Bob Marley's Is this Love.

I also want to go on record with my choice for this year's break-out sensation, Saskwatch.

The band and the crowd seemed to fall in love with each other as we hooked into the catchy melodies and cranking brass lines.

DARK HORSE: Saskwatch proved a sensation on the APRA stage.
DARK HORSE: Saskwatch proved a sensation on the APRA stage.

Fronted by the sparkling Nkechi Anele, who also turned up as a panellist on the Rockwiz stage, Saskwatch just edged out the majestic Ben Caplan as my favourite artist this year.

Caplan's giant voice and hilarious between-songs banter transfixed the crowd and his nightmarish music hall songs were as dark and funny as a Tim Burton movie.

He also accomplished that rarest of feats, getting an Australian audience to clap in time through a whole song then led us all in an impromptu primal screaming session.

"Let's all scream as loud as we can so everyone outside wonders what the f**k is going on in here," he said.

NEVER SAY DIE: Iggy and the Stooges showed the crowd what real rock and roll is all about.
NEVER SAY DIE: Iggy and the Stooges showed the crowd what real rock and roll is all about.

Earlier on Saturday I had been drawn into the Mojo tent by the urgent call of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

This was big-screen rock at its best as the band channelled Heart and Janis Joplin with a dash of Zeppelin and it turned the crowd into instant acolytes.

Finally we come to the face-off between Plant and Pop.

Plant and his band, The Sensational Space Shifters, stepped out to face a respectful audience, ready to hear something new from Plant.

His six-piece band moved through a set of songs, including Zeppelin favourites Black Dog and Heartbreaker that had their roots firmly planted in rock and blues but refracted through a prism of African, Middle Eastern and Appalachian influence.

Meanwhile over in the Crossroads tent, Iggy and the Stooges were on a mission, with Iggy churning and gyrating across the stage and down into the audience like no 65 year old has a right to do.

With breakneck versions of Search and Destroy, Kill City and I Wanna Be Your Dog, the Stooges left it all out there on the stage and the crowd lapped it up.


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