Once again, the festival among the gum trees has delivered.
In its ninth instalment, Echuca’s Riverboats Music Festival produced a line-up second to none. Bernard Fanning, Kate Miller-Heidke, Something For Kate, Troy Casser-Daly, Archie Roach and many others headed up to the Mighty Murray for the three-day event.
Punters grabbed their picnic rugs, floppy hats, trio of dips and found a spot to sit down, relax and enjoy the music-filled weekend.
Master of ceremonies Brian Nankervis brought his music knowledge, favourite songs, and trustee frisbee along for the ride. The comedian filled in the gaps between acts with games galore and had the crowd in stitches from the beginning.
Friday night kicked off with a Welcome To Country from local Indigenous elder Uncle Rick Ronan before Matt Joe Now, Dyson Stringer Cloher and Troy Casser- Daley hit the stage. Mia Dyson, Liz Stringer and Jen Cloher had all individually wow-ed Riverboats in previous years and together the supergroup got the audience off their seats and up dancing. In his performance, Casser-Daley remarked how playing at the festival had been a dream come true and the country star blew the crowds away with his hit-stacked set.
The crowd has always been capped at 4,000 so everyone can fit comfortably in the natural amphitheatre. The simply lovely audience is a diverse mix of people from all walks of life with many families coming along to the festival. If I had to capture the audience in a few words; lovers of Double J radio and punters of the early days of Meredith are enticed by Riverboats Music Festival year after year.
Ainslie Wills, Robert Forster, Horns of Leroy featuring Thando, Mama Kin Spender, Something for Kate and Bernard Fanning graced the second day of the event. Horns of Leroy were fantastic. The impressive musicians played a bunch of party classics which had the audience singing along.
While Bernard Fanning was the headline act for the festival and played a great rock set to close Saturday night, it was disappointing the former Powderfinger frontman didn’t play any of the band’s hits. I know he is a solo act in his own right, but for us who loved Powderfinger and listened to all their songs, it was saddening to not get the chance to sing-a-long to ‘These Days’ or ‘My Happiness’.
However, Something For Kate were definitely something else. In my opinion, their sunset slot stole the festival and was filled with hit after hit and high energy performances from the whole band. If you ever have the chance to see the band in action; take it.
Day three brought Jess Locke, Bob Evans, Archie Roach and Kate Miller-Heidke to the Echuca-Moama stage. Bob Evans was the surprise of the festival for me. I hadn’t heard much of his work before the festival (except for his work with Jebediah of course) and now I have the alternative folk singer on repeat.
Archie Roach was mesmerising. Roach’s wisdom and words are unforgettable and his sensational backing band demonstrated why the musical pioneer is still selling out shows across the country.
Finally, Kate Miller-Heidke closed the festival with a set full of all her hits and an outstanding voice that leaves your head spinning. Miller-Heidke’s voice is out-of-this-world amazing and she was simply a delight to watch perform.
Riverboats, you’ve done it again. I’m not sure how this year can be topped but I can’t wait to see what next year’s tenth anniversary will bring to the Murray River.
When: February 14-16
Reviewed by Kim Price