Bluesfest Byron Bay is the best music festival in the world and it was incredible to have it back after years of COVID shutdown. The buzz around the 2022 festival was infectious, typically it takes the crowd until sunset to really hit its peak of enthusiasm. However this year, the gratitude of Bluesfest’s return fuelled the fans’ absolute jubilation from the minute the gates opened.

Tone Deaf was at Bluesfest all five days, and we had someone at almost every set each day. So we swapped notes, and have listed our top 16 live acts at Bluesfest 2022, listed below in alphabetical order.

1. Amy Shark

Highlight: It was genius to book Amy Shark at Bluesfest. Why? Because Bluesfest is a family festival. That means, people of all ages, of all walks of life come with their family every year as part of decade long traditions.

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It’s no surprise that there was a big alternative-pop music audience at Bluesfest, because Bluesfest attracts all fans regardless of their music preference. So when Amy Shark got on stage, every pop fan at the festival turned up and soaked up the full 90 minute experience. Such noise, such intensity, such brilliance.

2. Baker Boy

Highlight: The Gucci x The North Face Tracksuit looked as fresh as Baker Boy’s performance. Baker Boy is a bona fide star whose musicality is on display with each movement, syllable and melody.

3. Casey Barnes

Highlight: The moment the whole audience sung “God Took His Time On You” was the defining moment of Casey’s set, and you could see how much Casey was enjoying every moment of that connection with this fans.

4. Clarence Bekker

Highlight: Clarence Bekker can dance. Man, can he dance!

5. Cory Henry

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Highlight: The robo funk of “Waterfall” gripping the crowd as Henry waxed lyrical through heady vocoder. Protofunk bliss.

6. Jimmy Barnes

Highlight: Barnsey is the absolute GOAT. He has as much energy on stage now as he did 30 years ago, to see him rocking out with his whole family onstage with him felt momentous.

7. Kasey Chambers

Highlight: Kasey was the highlight for many Bluesfest fans, she has been performing at the festival over a 21 year period – and it’s clear the audience had a special bond with her. Of course, “I’m Not Pretty Enough” was a banger, as it always will be.

8. Lachy Doley and The Horns of Conviction

Highlight: Lachy Doley, who I discovered at Bluesfest this year, might be the best live musician I have ever seen in my life. As the absolute best live act at Bluesfest 2022, his set was mesmerising, fun, impressive and unlike any other festival show I’ve seen.

9. Missy Higgins

Highlight: What surprised us most about the Missy Higgins set was the amount of noise the fans were creating with every climatic moment through the performance. Bluesfest fans absolutely LOVED Missy, and Kate Miller-Heidke jumping up was a huge treat.

10. Pierce Brothers

Highlight: Jack Pierce was out with COVID so Pat played without his twin brother for the first time. It was inspiring and blew the roof off the tent to see him step up and carry the show. Kim Churchill also jumped on stage for a few songs, inspiring to see.

11. The Teskey Brothers

Highlight: Their singalong to “Hold Me” will never be forgotten.

12. The Cat Empire

Highlight: Watching the Cat Empire say goodbye to their fans with their last ever performance was really strange, sad and incredible… all in the one moment.

13. The Wailers

Highlight: If you weren’t a Crowded House fan on Sunday night, you were treated to The Wailers – who showed every band in the world a blueprint on how to close out a festival stage.

It felt like an after party, with ample jumping and, dancing, and where The Wailers felt like they were at one with the audience, not simply performing to them. Incredible.

14. The War and Treaty

Highlight: The War and Treaty define Bluesfest. Soul, sing-a-long choruses, incredible voices and overwhelming passion.

15. Vika & Linda

Highlight: Performing heart-melter “When Will You Fall For Me”, Vika & Linda reminded the crowd why they’ve been music mainstays since the mid-Eighties. The single from ’94, which has been re-released in multiple iterations over the years, was the perfect portrayal of vocal interplay and precise restraint from the powerhouse sisters.

16. 19-Twenty

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Highlight: Huge energy, incredible musicians, a massive Bluesfest 2022 discovery.

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