The third and final day of Voodoo Festival got under way with blue skies and perfect temperatures hovering around 70 degrees. A few people were still wandering around in Halloween costumes, but most had returned from their post-zombie ways.
I made it to the festival grounds just in time to see The Pogues start their brand of Irish rock. Singer Shane MacGowan, in all of his toothless glory, slurred and stumbled his way through the set. Rumors of band infighting went unfounded – some people said there as a bandmate, Spider Stacy, who was escorted or left the stage, but all members could be see on stage at the end of their set.
While Shooter Jennings was on one of the side stages, the Fleur de Tease burlesque show got underway in the Bingol Parlor. Kind of like Big Mama D’s brand of entertainment in Charlotte, the ladies showed off their bodies with class and decorum.
Next up on the Voodoo Stage was Widespread Panic who offered up plenty of jams for their two-hour set. I’m a fan of the Grateful Dead, I’ve enjoyed a few Phish shows, but I’ve never been able to get into the ways of Widespread.
JJ Grey got the rock and soul going on the SoCo Stage. Grey is one of those artists who I just happened to see open for The Allman Brothers Band a few years back and has been on my radar – and CD player – ever since. He played a packed show at the Neighborhood Theatre last year and recently opened a show for Derek Trucks at the Belk Theater. Each time I see him, his guitar prowess seems to grow. It’s not that he hasn’t looked at ease on stage, but he pushes the sonic boundaries a bit further each time. He made play of use of a wah pedal and never made his way behind the piano, instead staying up front with guitar in hand.
In between sets on the SoCo Stage, Biz Markie was spinning brief DJ sets.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Tent got a decent crowd to witness the all-star jam being held with Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Johnny Sansone and Waylon Thibodeaux.
When the Panic was over, The Flaming Lips were the final act on the PlayStation Stage and kicked it off in typical hamster-ball fashion. Singer Wayne Coyne rolled out into the crowd before being set free during “Race for the Prize.” Confetti showered the crowd as the band played a set of old and new songs, including a few from Embryonic.
For a brief time, early in the hour-and-15-minute set, Coyne was joined by a naked woman. Apparently, one of the dancers on the side of the stage decided to strip down and jump happily naked with Coyne, who laughed and gave her a hug. The woman got dressed back in her costume and danced the evening away.
The Lips’ set contained the usual suspects – “Yoshimi,” “Do You Realize?” and “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song.”
Shortly after the final confetti had dropped onto the crowd, Lenny Kravitz took the stage for a nearly two-hour set to wrap up the weekend. With the 20th anniversary of Let Love Rule this year, it’s no surprise that Kravitz kicked off his set with “Freedom Train.”
Getting funky and ripping plenty of riffs, Kravitz mixed it up with the fast and slow songs – “Ain’t Over Til It’s Over,” “Mr. Cab Driver,” “Mama’s Child” and “Believe.”
While Robert Randolph was on the Soco Stage performing a tribute to Michael Jackson with covers of “Gotta Be Starting Something” and “Man in the Mirror,” Kravitz was letting his horn players freestyle.
Kravitz ended his set with a swarm of hits – “Mama Said,” “American Woman,” “Fly Away,” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” – before coming back for an extended encore song, “Let Love Rule,” while being joined by New Orleans’ own Trombone Shorty.
Overall, it was an exhausting weekend, but aside from some rain on Friday night, one that had perfect outdoor concert weather. No heat of Bonnaroo to be found. It’s also some of the best festival food you can find – po boys, etoufee, gator nuggets, fish tacos, gumbo, jumbalaya… it’s almost worth the trip for the food alone.
On a funny side note, as I was walking around downtown New Orleans to get some lunch before heading to City Park, I ran into Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins who was hanging around and checking out a marching band. Perkins was cordial and all smiles. Nice guy, if you ever see him around.