The 2003 Music and Blues Festival

Music and Blues legends come alive on stage at Aussies newest festival.

3 stages, a great line up of acts, best weather possible. It really was an enormous weekend. The inaugural Melbourne International Music and Blues Festival. Touted as being one of the greatest gatherings of International and Australian musicians ever assembled in the one location. The Minister for tourism wanted to get his face in on it. The Lord Mayor wanted to get his face in. It was the big gig and every punter and his dog wanted to be seen there. Held in the grounds of the Melbourne Exhibition Centre (Jeff’s Shed) it looked more like an outdoor gig at Glastonbury, Reading, Isle of Wight, Knebworth Castle,or Hyde Park in the UK.

Tony McKay and his team did an excellent job of running the show. Plenty of food stalls and grog tents. A very civilized setup. At one stage there was a small queue at the ladies toilets and within an hour or so, there was another bank of portable loo’s ready to cope with the overload. A constant team of cleaners ensured the place was always in tip top shape. As I said, the organizers did a great job. The talent on stage was brilliant as was the talent behind the scenes. We really should be very proud of our FOH and stage crews in this country. They are definitely well and truly world standard. The stage changes all went without a hitch and everything ran like a well oiled clock. Sound out the front was incredible. Clear clean and loud. Once again they were using the Camco driven Nexo Alpha system. Main stage had 12 x M3 Mid High boxes with 12 x B1 15" Base and 6 x S2 subs per side. It was very well controlled with more reserve power than was needed. I cannot explain how wonderfully clear yet loud this system is. You could blow jet airliner’s from the sky with this thing. HiFi enthusiasts would be saying words like "More Musical", "Transparent" and "Detailed". Fact is, this was one red hot PA rig. It had more balls than an elephant and left you with the stunning clarity of feeling like you were in the shower with whoever was singing.

The smaller stage also had a Camco powered Nexo system only this time it was the smaller GEO rig. One GEO array per side with four subs tucked at the front of stage. It looked absolutely tiny in comparison. But looks are very deceiving. This little rig was positioned so that it threw down the length of Jeff’s shed. Richard Brownlee spent all weekend at front of house on the small stage with the GEO and every now and then he would get enthused and crank the system just that bit extra. For such a small size it was doing a phenomenal job. Often competing with the large system on the main stage. During the three days, as I walked around, I was surprised to hear numerous punters comment on the fact that they could not believe that so much sound was coming from a system so small in size. Here they were, people with no real interest in the technical aspects still being impressed with the lack of size yet enormous output from the speaker system. In some respects the big winner at the Festival was the Nexo GEO.


John Mayall


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