Photos And Review | Bonnnaroo | Manchester

The final day of Bonnaroo 2014 began early with bright summer sunshine bathing the Manchester farm lands. While many festival goers were up early to take full advantage of this last shortened day of music, three days of non-stop partying was beginning to take its toll on others. Some young EDM fans began packing up and heading for the exits. Others passed out in any shady area where a prone position was possible. But there was still a mass of music fans ready for a full day of music.

More traditional music was the order of the day, with a strong showing by bluegrass in all its incantations and ending with an historic classic rock finale featuring Elton John playing his first-ever American music festival. Special moments began early the day before when the legendary bass player of Led Zeppelin, John Paul Jones, sat in during a 1:30 set by Seasick Steve. Jones is a veteran of Bonnaroo having played one of the most memorable SuperJams in one of the first of these special sessions. Social media was buzzing with the event so many were exploring the music possibilities early on Sunday. By early afternoon, a large crowd had formed in front of the main stage for Colorado’s Yonder Mountain String Band, who offered up their own progressive brand of bluegrass music with special guest Sam Bush. On the other outside stage, an even bigger crowd gathered for the dance-friendly beats of Los Angeles duo Capital Cities and their funky electronica dance band. Later in the afternoon the Arctic Monkeys brought their signature brand of fiery English rock to the main stage. The band evoked a huge response from the large crowd, with many people coming alive from their fourth day of Bonnaroo hangover. The band that was largely launched by social media has always been a fierce favorite for many hard rock fans. Meanwhile, Fitz and The Tantrums were keeping the funky dance beat going on the other outside stage. This band, always a festival crowd favorite, has also endeared itself to a fierce fan following.

The mood on the same stage turned decidedly mellow with the much-anticipated set by indie- rock super duo Broken Bells. As the sun began to set, the duo led their band in a mood-drenched set that pleased many in the crowd. Pot-loving rapper Wiz Khalifa closed the other outside stage with a well-received set that included his biggest hits. The rapper appeared to smoke pot non-stop during his entire set, in keeping with his stoner image to the delight of the crowd.

As the sun set a huge crowd of diehard Bonnaroo attendees began to swarm the main stage hours before the scheduled set time of Elton John. Music fans of many generations, but especially young music fans packed together tightly, bubbling with excitement and anticipation and appreciative of the chance to witness the concert of a legendary performer. It was hard to imagine a headliner rivaling the rock royalty of Sir Paul McCartney’s previous year’s massive spectacle. But Sir Elton John certainly came close. What most in the crowd didn’t realize was the historic significance of the event. Not only was it the iconic piano man’s first American festival, but the concert also included two of the three English rockers that were members of his original band formed back in 1969. Drummer Nigel Olsen and guitarist Davey Johnstone gave the concert a whole new dimension, that an Elton John concert has not had in decades. These veteran rockers brought a vibe similar to Rod Stewart’s Faces band or even the Rolling Stones themselves.

The heavy rock and well-amplified sound helped launch John into the superstardom that he enjoys to this day. But the piano man had no problem dominating his group of loud and impeccable musicians, with strong crisp vocals and incredible piano playing, during his marathon string of hit songs that lasted well over two hours. The humble musician stopped repeatedly to thank the fans for allowing him to participate in Bonnaroo. A massive multimedia presentation for each of his greatest hit songs added to the euphoria in the crowd. The 67-year-old master of the piano even enlisted Bonnaroo veteran Ben Folds to join him for a song during the long set. It may have been one of the largest crowds to stay to the very end of the Bonnaroo festival. I have never seen so many smiling faces at the end of a concert, especially after a marathon four days of nearly non-stop music. A fitting finish to the best Bonnaroo yet? Festival goers will have to make that call.

JamBase | Centeroo
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[Published on: 6/17/14]

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