Live Review: Harvest Rock II @ Rymill & King Rodney Parks, Adelaide

30 October 2023 | 11:44 am | Michael Prebeg

Beck, Jamiroquai and more kept the party going right to the curfew and kept Harvest Rock punters happy.

Warpaint @ Harvest Rock

Warpaint @ Harvest Rock (Credit: Rodney Magazinovic)

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DAY 1 

A pair of cherries welcome us to the festival after we pass through the entry gates and make the perfect landmark for a photo opportunity. It’s the second edition of Harvest Rock, and the weather gods have delivered a perfect weekend of sunshine to enjoy some of the world’s best music paired with the best food and wine South Australia has to offer. 

Upon entry, there’s even a Little Harvest, an area of the festival designed for kids built on the beautiful grounds of the playground of Rymill Park with lots of fun and entertainment for all ages so that the whole family can get involved. Everything has been meticulously planned to ensure Harvest caters to everyone, and with only two stages with quick changeovers, it’s hard not to miss a beat of the action.

Charlie Collins is the first live act of the festival and opens the Vines stage with her personal country-rock music that delves into heartbreak about ex-boyfriends and existential crises. Her riveting sound is fearless and full of emotion. We soak up her dreamy vocals as the hot sun begins to warm us up in the early afternoon.

It’s the first official time English singer-songwriter Jade Bird is playing in Australia. Ironically, she starts off with a song about running away from home, but she’s glad to be out on tour. Her poetic and strong song crafting shines through in her delivery of smooth yet powerful vocals. Headstart is a bop with upbeat hooks and cheerful melodies, and she shares a new song called Save Your Tears, which is a rare happy song for her, she reveals.

On our way over to the main stage, there’s a cellar door wine-tasting pop-up to quench our thirst and Wildwoods Village and food trucks in Truck Town to feed our hunger with a feast of gastronomical offerings leaving us spoilt for choice.

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Cherry bomb visuals are displayed on both sides of Harvest stage, and local Adelaide pub-rockers Bad//Dreems arrive on stage with an explosive performance with a chaotic intensity. The mosh-pit comes alive with sweaty bodies as the heat ignites the open-air stage, and the crowd jumps along to the band’s energetic pace with gritty guitars and raw vocals.

New Zealand singer Ladyhawke (aka Pip Brown) kicks off her set with Magic, and her shimmering synthpop takes over the audience, instantly sparking a singalong. She uses a tambourine to hold down her set list, which comes in handy as the wind picks up. Brown reflects on her long-time friendship with Nick Littlemore (PNAU, Empire Of The Sun) and continues to play a couple of her biggest dance hit collaborations with PNAU, including River and Embrace. Paris Is Burning and My Delirium ensures the crowd is pumped up for a big finish with irresistible riffs and a catchy chorus to shout at the top of our lungs.

The Rolling Stones Revue, starring an incredible line-up including Adalita and Tim Rogers and a star-studded band, take us on a rock ‘n’ roll journey through the greatest Rolling Stones hits. It’s a loud celebration that takes us back to the heyday of the Stones with epic performances to boogie along to as we watch nostalgic images of the iconic rock band display on the stage screen.

American indie-rock group Warpaint gave a spellbinding performance over at the Vines stage with their signature moody grooves and dreamy vocal harmonies. They slowly build their set with psychedelic guitars and hypnotising melodies for everyone to float around to. 

Bernard Fanning gives an awe-inspiring performance with a mix of new and old songs to please fans, including Isn’t It A Pity, Wish You Well, and even a Powderfinger hit These Days. The audience is captivated by his melancholic storytelling and beautifully arranged folk-rock songs that seem to get even better with age. 

Electro-funk duo Chromeo haven’t played an Australian music festival in eleven years, so the first thing they have to do is play a few songs for their ‘day one fans.’ They unleash their unique ‘80s disco sound, complete with synthesizers and a talk box for a mash-up of some of their early hits, including Tenderoni, Fancy Footwork and Don’t Sleep. They continue to share a few new songs, too, including Replacements, and they teach us the chorus to sing along. Their non-stop energetic set is fun and vibrant, filled with plenty of exciting moments of infectious grooves that we can’t resist the urge to join in and two-step dance along.

Thelma Plum gives a calming and emotionally charged performance in the late afternoon, showcasing her evocative storytelling abilities and her warm and comforting soulful vocals. She effortlessly glides between songs from Woke Blokes to Dollar and a cover of Powderfinger’s These Days. Plum shares a new upbeat and catchy song called We Don’t Talk About It, which she reveals she recently filmed a video clip for in London and is coming out soon. 

“Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve been here. We came to dance, party and have a good time! Are you ready?” shouts Nile Rogers as he and his legendary band Chic take to the main stage as the sun begins to set. They immediately take us to a whole other level and get stuck in with their most iconic disco anthems, Le Freak and Everybody Dance. 

Rogers takes us down memory lane with a medley of some of his biggest number-one hits. The music legend has collaborated with so many incredible artists throughout his career, and tonight, he invites us to collaborate with him with a call-and-response sing-along. Rogers recounts working with Madonna back in the early ‘80s and plays both Material Girl and Like A Virgin with his band tonight. Chic’s lead singer, Kimberley Davis, unleashes her incredible vocal power with a huge range to blow the roof off. 

It’s been an incredible year for Rogers, winning a lifetime achievement Grammy Award and one for co-writing Beyonce’s Cuff It, which he works into the set. He continues to play tribute to Daft Punk with Get Lucky and Lose Yourself To Dance in the hope that they’ll get back together one day. We reach a state of maximum funk-odyssey for a huge dance-funk finisher, including David Bowie’s Let’s Dance and their ultimate feel-good party track, Good Times.

As the night falls, Flight Facilities serves up their latest live show that includes five decades of music with non-stop hits from the ‘70s to the 2010s. Standing underneath a cluster of disco balls and strobe lighting, Hugo (Gruzman) and Jimmy (Lyell) know exactly how to get the party started and make sure everybody is dancing in no time.

Featuring a mash-up of video clips from pop culture movies, TV shows, commercials, news clips and music videos on the screens behind them, they take us on a musical trip down memory lane with songs that define each generation. It’s an absolute blast from the past as we immerse ourselves in a nostalgic dance party to relive some of the most iconic memories connected to the music of each era. 

“It’s been a long fucking time Australia; it’s great to be back, says Jamiroquai frontman vocalist Jay Kay in an Aussie accent. “Are you ready for it? You sound like you’re ready for it. Let’s do it!” The British funk band has returned to Australia for this one-off exclusive performance tonight.

Fans are treated to a 105-minute set that takes us on a ride through their back catalogue, starting with Main Vein, and they quickly demonstrate their innate chemistry and experience with extended instrumental jams that feel almost spontaneous yet effortless. Little L draws us into their infectious disco-pop and gets the audience grooving along under the light of the full moon beaming down on us. They continue to take us back to 1995 when Jay Kay was 25 with Space Cowboy, and he shows us he’s still got all the moves he had all those years ago as he dances and shuffles sideways across the stage wearing his signature feathered headdress.

We go way back to 1993 with their first-ever track, When You Gonna Learn. The performance includes a didgeridoo from a First Nations musician to pay respect to the traditional custodians of the land we’re partying on. They leave most of their biggest hits to the last half hour of the set, including Cosmic Girl, Canned Heat, Love Foolosophy and Virtual Insanity to finish. Jay Kay reveals they’re going back into the studio and promises they’ll come back again soon and stay longer next time.


American rockers The Lemon Twigs shake things up early on and with an electric presence at the Vines Stage. The four-piece band have a retro 1970s aesthetic, and their indie rock sound has a nostalgic sensibility that transports us back in time. They’ve got a cohesive sound that works seamlessly together with catch riffs and an infectious energy. The lead guitarist even adds some high kicks to his performance to excite the audience even further.

It’s Sam Barber’s first time in Australia, and he shares his powerful, raspy vocal growls on the Harvest stage that echo across the festival. The up-and-coming country singer strums his acoustic guitar and gives a deeply emotional and passionate performance that’s beyond his years. 

Julia Jacklin performs her last show of the year, which is a good thing and a bad thing, she comments. She instantly commands our attention with her vocals, which are delicate and powerful at the same time. Her raw confessional writing style tugs at the heartstrings and takes us on a rollercoaster of emotions as we take in her exceptional lyricism combined with enchanting guitars.

Australian psychedelic rock band Babe Rainbow takes us to a groovier level with their uplifting surf-rock inspired by sounds of the golden age of the ‘60s and ’70s. They have the ability to make the audience feel super relaxed with their carefree style and mesmerising soundscape. 

Chet Faker reveals he built this show to play during the nighttime, but he’s here to give it a try playing during the daytime. His upbeat and electronic production quickly gets everyone dancing to some of his biggest hits with seamless transitions between each of his songs, including Drop The Game, Talk Is Cheap and Low.

He completely immerses himself in his instrumentation, from keyboards to analogue synthesizers, with an incredible display of live mixing and singing simultaneously, all while he has the crowd in the palm of his hand. No Diggity sparks a huge crowd reaction as the crowd sings along at the top of their voices to fill the air.

Vera Blue (aka Celia Pavey) emerges in a striking, brightly coloured dress with black-feathered wings. “Happy Halloween, everyone,” she says as she comments on her outfit that got her feeling a bit spooky for today’s performance. Pavey wows us with her incredible vocal performance, and she whips her long red locks of hair around as she dances up a storm with her electro-pop heavy tracks at the front and back end of her set.

She shares a few new songs from her latest album, Mercurial, plus a few old favourites, including Hold, Settle and a delightful cover of Enya’s Orinoco Flow. Pavey builds light and shade beautifully in her performance, and we feel the powerful emotion of her exceptional songwriting against a backdrop of ever-changing visuals to compliment the mood of each song.

Dressed in all white, Santigold stands with two dancers by her side to give an eccentric and magnetic performance to raise our energy levels. She wastes no time starting off with her most popular track that’s become a cult classic (L.E.S. Artistes). She continues to pace the show perfectly and knows just how to keep her audience happy with a great mix of her material with an immersive and dynamic display of choreography.

They have some technical issues with their equipment about halfway through, but quickly recover and keep things going with Disparate Youth and calls for the audience to come on stage for Creator, which explodes with a big dance party around her, including a festival-goer dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Indie-rock group Bright Eyes returned to Australia for the first time in 12 years, so fans have been eagerly awaiting this performance. They’re joined by a horn and string section to create a lively and cinematic sound full of emotional charge. Lead singer Conor Oberst shares his raw vocals and heart-wrenchingly sad lyrics against shredding guitars and tender piano moments to command the audience’s attention as they share any shades of their sonic palate ranging from folk, rock, and country influence. Their evocative and melancholic music is a nostalgic and intimate experience that’s been worth the wait.

“So, Adelaide, may we start?” Asks the lead singer of Sparks, Russell Mael. Fittingly, they begin with So May We Start, and it’s almost impossible not to be carried away by their eccentric performance from the get-go. Their unconventional musical stylings of art-pop music with synth-heavy melodies are strange yet intriguingly contagious, with repetitive lyrics that are easy to catch on and have us singing along in no time.

It’s the duo’s first time playing in Adelaide in their very long career, and they share some brand-new songs off their latest album, including one called Nothing Is As Good As They Say It Is, written from the point of view of a 22-hour-old baby who Mael describes has seen enough and wants to go back where they came from. Their quirky and theatrical style is undeniably fun and infectious.

Over at the Harvest Stage, Paul Kelly has ignited a massive singalong to the songbook of his greatest hits, including Dumb Things, Before Too Long and From Little Things, Big Things Grow. His music is timeless and touches generations, young and old. His masterful melodies and poetic-laden lyrics command full respect from the audience without the use of any flashy visuals or elaborate sets needed. 

Archival video footage of Tash Sultana plays on the screen of them as a small child playing with guitars to busking on the streets of Melbourne early on in their career before they emerge on stage. Sultana has come a long way since then, and their live performance continues to evolve to new and exciting heights.

They are completely immersed in the bubble of their instrumentation as they rotate guitars and brass instruments to create live loops of an atmospheric soundscape around their raspy vocals. It’s fascinating to watch and get lost in as they maintain the audience’s attention throughout their entire performance.

Beck is a bit late to start his closing set of the festival but arrives with a huge opening full of strikingly engaging visuals with bright neon colours splashed across the backdrop screen. The stage set up has two tiers with stairs in the middle for him to move around freely. He takes us on a ride starting with Devil’s Haircut and moving through his huge catalogue spanning his 30-year musical career. 

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Adelaide,” he says as he addresses the audience and continues to coax the full moon to come out from behind the clouds to shine down on us as we dance with him. His new live show is filled with colourful animations that enhance the liveliness and fun of his performance. Songs, including Up All Night and Wow, reflect themes and lyrics in the visuals displayed on the screen to make the performance engaging and interactive.

“I don’t get to come to Australia that often, and he says we are reminding him how much he misses it. I wanted to sing something with the romantic ambience of the full moon, he says as he continues with a song written about a girl he met in California who is getting over a broken heart called Debra.

Beck showcases his extensive discography and musical styles with a slick performance and an incredible energy to bring Harvest Rock festival to a close on the ultimate high. Loser conjures a huge audience singalong, and a three-song-encore ensures he keeps the party going right to the curfew in order to keep his fans happy with an impressive 20-song-long set to solidify his headliner status.