Paul Simon embraces the Bluesfest crowd.
Paul Simon embraces the Bluesfest crowd. Patrick Gorbunovs

Fans dance in the mud to Paul Simon

BY the time Paul Simon and his huge band strode on to stage last night, the mud around the perimeter of Byron Bay Blues Festival's Mojo tent was so thick it posed a danger of swallowing up children and small animals.

But two songs in when Simon suggested the night become a massive dance party before he launched into Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard, even those of us bogged in the foul smelling mess managed to move our feet.

There may have been mud caked on ours but when the infectious African rhythms of Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes kicked in from the groundbreaking Graceland album, the dance party was elevated to a whole new level.

"This (Byron Bay) is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  I can't believe it," he told the crowd.

Slip Sliding Away, which featured a crowd sing along, was dedicated to his friend and producer Phil Ramone who died this week.

The first song of multiple encores, Sounds of Silence, featured just Simon on guitar with the crowd once again on backing vocals determined to wring every last minute of joy out of another festival performance they'll be talking about for years to come.

This was a totally different performer from the disengaged Simon I witnessed many years back in Brisbane.

To be fair the Brisbane Entertainment Centre crowd that night also could have done with a defribillator, but during one of the last performances of the festival, artist and crowd were brimming with life.

If I ever get blasé about living two hours from the nearest capital city and yet getting to experience some of the greatest musicians of our time 7km from my home, feel free to kick mud in my face.