Rock legend Barnesy to make stage return at Bluesfest

Sophia McCaughan and William Ton
2 Min Read
Jimmy Barnes will make his return to the stage at Bluesfest after heart surgery.
Jimmy Barnes will make his return to the stage at Bluesfest after heart surgery. Credit: AAP

Rock legend Jimmy Barnes will make his highly anticipated return to the stage at the latest edition of Bluesfest after recovering from open heart surgery.

The Scottish-born singer underwent the operation in December after a bacterial infection spread to his heart.

Barnes announced in February that he would be performing at the annual festival, marking his first performance since November.

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“I can’t wait to get back on stage again, in front of the band, playing for you all,” he said in a video posted to X at the time.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, I’ll see you there.”

Barnes will be joined at Bluesfest, which began on Thursday, by a roster of Australian and international artists that includes Tom Jones, Ben Harper, Elvis Costello and The Teskey Brothers.

The 67-year-old has been taking fans inside his rehabilitation journey after his surgery across his social media channels, even hinting this month at new music in a post to Instagram.

“Aside from working on my fitness and health, these holidays have given me time to create, I’ve written a couple of new songs,” he said.

Barnes’ first show back will be a unique performance, showcasing both electric and acoustic songs off his Flesh and Wood album, which was released more than 30 years ago.

The Bluesfest event, which is taking place outside Byron Bay, follows the shock cancellation of the annual Splendour in the Grass festival, due to be held near the northern NSW town in July.

It is one of a series of high-profile cancellations since 2022, with many festival organisers blaming rising costs and shrinking household budgets for the sector’s woes after the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bluesfest director Peter Noble said ticket sales at his event were still as much as 30 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels and it was important to have the right artists to pull in the crowds.

“We’re fortunate enough to find they’re already lining up to play next year,” he told AAP.

Mr Noble described Barnes as a “tour de force” and one of the hardest-working people in show business.

“We don’t want him to overdo it, but we can’t wait to see him play on Sunday afternoon,” he said.

An estimated 70,000 people attended the previous year’s Bluesfest, which has been running since 1990.

The festival ends on Monday.

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