VIDEO: The luck of the Irish, singing in the dark
IT was their first Australian show at Mullum Music Festival, Irish duo Saint Sister went on stage with no power and just a harp and their voices, but that did not prevent them from wowing audiences.
Saturday was a busy day at Mullum Music festival: the hippies were out and about, the stormy weather could be seen approaching from 4pm, but people were having too much fun in the double decker psychedelic bus to mind some clouds in the sky.
Everyone was busy enjoying music and food delights on offer, like the amaretti peaches cooked by Nomadic Kitchen, an institution at the festival, while Jordi Lane, the Australian folk musician son of comedian Denise Scott, showed why he is considered one of the best live acts in his genre these days .
The afternoon stared bright and humid, the perfect conditions for 1980s-style flash mob The Cassette to flourish.
The Northern Rivers group is a staple at local music festivals because they offer a fun, family-friendy but cheeky approach to music and dance that anyone can join, and yesterday the ladies were totally 'in' with a selection of Queen songs.
At the Mullumbimby Civic Hall, the heart of festival, British singer and Gomez frontman Ben Otewell went on stage, but half-way through his set, sometime after 6.30pm, a blackout hit the whole of Mullumbimby.
Otewell (looking trim and fit) had no choice but to finish the set with his guitar and his voice.
"That was rough!" said Otewell when he made it backstage, while Irish duo Saint Sister (formed by Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre) was getting their harp out of its case.
Saint Sister's sound and voices are superb but they sing in an 'ethereal' soft way, which meant that for the first two songs people really needed to be quiet in Mullumbimby.
Can you imagine people in Mullumbimby being quiet? It happened once, yesterday.
Audience members also helped the band with torches so they could be seen on stage.
Doherty and MacIntyre sang Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen, a song that was part of their set but took an extra special meaning given the circumstances.
The musicians won the audience with the skill of their voices and their determination to play the gig against all odds, and by doing so they offered the most memorable gig of the festival so far.
The rain did not deter punters and, at the Mullumbimby High School, Japanese funk band Osaka Monaurail had people queuing to get into the venue.
Most festival venues had power back on by 9pm.
It is interesting to note that 15 minutes after the blackout hit Mullumbimby, other venues like the RSL Club, Bowlo, High School and Drill Hall had their emergency generators on, but the Civic Hall did not have such luck because the Council-run venue does not have an emergency generator.
Saint Sisters will perform their full show today from 4.15pm at the Civic Hall.
The highlight of every Mullum Music Festival happens on Sunday and today will be no exception: the big music parade through town from 12 noon.
The free event will allow children, families and free-agents to join a fun activity where a record number of musicians has confirmed their presence.
The festival ends tonight with Melbourne-Zimbabwean soul star Thando at the Civic Hall, Northern Rivers neo-soul band Ladyslug at the Bowlo.