Womadelaide 2011 – Day 2

Saturday 12th March 2011

First up on Stage 1 was the Creole Choir of Cuba with some energetic dancing and wonderful vocals in a call and response form, each singer taking turns at the solo call line with terrific harmonies coming back from the others in the response. This was a warming start to a warm day with generosity of spirit evident in their performance.

Across to Stage 3 for Band of Brothers, the Grigoryan Brothers, Slava and Leonard, on classical guitars, with Joseph and James Tawadros on oud (something like a lute) and req (a tambourine) respectively. This was a fascinating blend of classical and Egyptian sounds, merged into a new form and performed by four top flight musicians.

Back to Stage 1 for Parisian born Nigerian, Asa, and her very fine band. Her beautifully modulated rich, deep voice suited the very varied selection of songs illustrating her many musical influences. This was a most rewarding performance with a strongly spiritual undertone. There were numerous imaginative solos from the musicians interspersed among the superb vocals.

Across to the Moreton Bay Stage for the Alan Kelly Quartet from Ireland. Kelly plays the piano accordion, unusual in a land where the button accordion is king. His dry tuned accordion has a great sound as he and his musical associates, Tola Custy on fiddle, Tony Byrne on guitar and Steph Geremia on flute and vocals run through a selection of original, traditional and imported tunes, opening with an original tune, Sienna Waltz. Jigs and reels were aplenty, along with a good selection of airs and waltzes played with skill and style by these great musicians.

Stage 1 again and this time 1222 of the 17 Hippies, a wildly swinging, fun group from Germany with piano accordions, banjo brass, fiddles, bass guitar and vocals. They offered a raucous and energetic performance that had the audience on its feet and dancing in moments. There was certainly no lack of variety on offer this afternoon and this group drew their music from all over, running it through there own style of Gypsy jazz playing to create it anew. Their Ten Green Bottles had everybody singing along and dancing again. They were almost too much fun.

A short break for a bite to eat and a drink and then it was back to Stage 1 for Martha Wainwright, initially accompanying herself on guitar then, after a few numbers, calling on her husband to join her on piano for a the second half, beginning with a song by her mother, Kate McGarrigle. He proved to be a most sensitive and skilled accompanist. Her clear and flexible voice, intense emotional connection and welcoming presentation endeared her to an audience that was already prepared for her arrival and had filled every bit of space front of stage, everybody seated listening intently to her meaningful lyrics.

With the light fading fast it was time for Féfé to take to Stage 1 with a blues riff at the beginning to warm up the audience. From France, of Nigerian descent, he and his band soon had the crowd dancing and clapping their hands to his infectious blend of blues rock and soul with a distinctly African influence. Bass, drums, guitar, keyboards and DJ created a dense mix of sounds with a strongly rhythmic beat. Some of the keyboard work reminded me of the phenomenal Rick Wakeman. Dancing, waving raised arms and chanting along to the wordless vocals was almost compulsory in this terrific set. A fine piano solo led into a cheeky rewriting of the lyrics of Georgia, asking do you want more, which everybody did.

Breathe, a moving and ethereal work from Leigh Warren and Dancers, choreographed by Frances Rings from Bangarra Dance Theatre, drew a massive crowd on Stage 2. Warrens dancers and several indigenous dancers combined forces to perform to music composed and played by didgeridoo master William Barton. There was a hushed audience for this work, caught up in the spirituality of the piece, until the enormous applause that came at the end. Catch the second performance this weekend.

Amadou and Mariam were the final performers of the day on Stage 1 with a 90 minute set. Singer, Mariam Doumbia, and guitarist/vocalist, Amadou Bagayoko, met at the Mali Institute for the Young Blind and discovered a mutual love of music. Their music draws on a range of genres, from Malian folk to jazz and blues. It is upbeat and energetic and, in spite of coming at the end of the day, when everybody was getting tired, they still managed to get the crowd dancing. This was a strong finish to the second day.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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