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Concert Photography, Concert Reviews, Music, Ottawa Bluesfest 2013

Concert Review: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Day 4) – Diamond Rings, Hannah Georgas, Wu-Tang Clan + More

By: Scott Penner (@ScottPenner) –

Day four saw Ottawa Bluesfest soldiering on with several energetic and interactive shows despite constant down pouring of rain that fell throughout most of the day.

Dismal crowd size down at the usually-popular River Stage now appears to be a trend at this year’s fest as Diamond Rings drew a small crowd that got even smaller once Fun. took to the Main stage. He treated the lucky few who stayed to watch his entire set to an energetic show that was almost exhausting to watch. His well-choreographed moves kept the rhythm going and his catchy, yet simple lyrics had many people singing along without even realizing it. His set featured songs from both his 2010 debut album, Special Affections, including “Wait & See” and “It’s Not My Party”, and his 2012 album, Free Dimensional, including “Runaway Love” and the energetic number “I’m Just Me”.

Vancouver-based indie pop singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas took to River stage at 7:30 pm. Her unique brand of soft indie pop drew a substantial crowd despite the rain. From the programmed beats of “Elephant”, the energetically put-together “Robotic” and “Enemies”, Georgas’ strong stage presence was engaging and it served well with her tight performance.

Wu-Tang Clan hit the stage in the evening. Currently on their first large-scale tour with all surviving members since the passing of founding member ODB almost a decade ago, they amplified the raw style of their recorded material in their live performance, with all members on stage at once shouting into their microphones. Security was out in full force for the early 6pm show, and went to work right away as several members of the energized crowd collapsed andrequire medical assistance even before the legendary rap collective walked on stage.

It rained throughout their set, but the hardcore front half of the crowd remained unphased as the shower helped temper the heat of the thousands of people jumping and pushing at once. A sea of umbrellas could be seen dancing in the back half of the crowd and the MC’s repeatedly asked the crowd to spin their umbrellas – creating an effect that looked pretty awesome from up front. Wu-Tang got up close and personal with the fans – crowd surfing and walking on the shoulders of several “lucky” fans as they performed.

Throughout their 20-song set, they played a mix of Wu-Tang classics like “CREAM” and “Ain’t Nothin’ Ta Fuck Wit”, from their 1993 debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), along with several Wu-Tang member covers including Raekwon’s “Incarcerated Scarfaces” and “Ice Cream”, and three GZA covers including “Liquid Words”, “Duel of the Iron Mic” and “4th Chamber”. Their performance developed a sombre tone when they performed the ODB hit “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” as a tribute to the fallen rapper, but upon closing their set with “Reunion” from their 1997 album, Wu-Tang Forever, it gave the crowd a glimmer of hope that they can reclaim their past glory on their  forthcoming new album.

The Joy Formidable, led by Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan, and hailing from North Wales made their first ever stop in Ottawa on the Claridge Stage. Bryan, who sported a Red Sox baseball cap for the first couple of songs, was all over the stage as she sang and played guitar. Their included a mix bag of tracks from their earlier works including the set-closing “Whirring”, from their 2011 debut album, The Big Roar, which saw Bryan jump  into the crowd with her guitar and letting a few fans strum away as she embraced others, along with “Cholla” and “This Ladder Is Ours”, from their 2012 album, Wolf’s Law.

Grammy Award-winning New York-based MC Everlast, who you might best remember as the front man for hip hop group House of Pain and their massive 1992 hit “Jump Around”, had his distinctive rough vocals backed by a band, which was a special treat for Ottawa, as he lamented having previous issues crossing the border into Canada. “I was a bad boy,” he told the crowd. The Carlos Santana-less version of “Put Your Lights On” worked well as the growing crowd sang along. He finished his one-hour set with a dramatically extended version of his hit “What It’s Like”, from his 1998 album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues.

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Diamond Rings
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Hannah Georgas
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Wu-Tang Clan
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The Joy Formidable
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Lily Frost
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Hearts and Mines
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Watsky
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Everlast
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Fevers
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The Hornettes
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