Review: WOMADelaide 2017, Day One

On the 25th Anniversary of ‘The World’s Festival, opening night was abuzz with good energy, and the eclectic mixture of sights, sounds and smells that are synonymous with the celebration that is the annual pilgrimage to WOMADelaide.


On the 25th Anniversary of ‘The World’s Festival, opening night was abuzz with good energy, and the eclectic mixture of sights, sounds and smells that are synonymous with the celebration that is the annual pilgrimage to WOMADelaide.

Attending the opening night festivities, Glam Adelaide once again had the privilege of feeling the essence of what makes this Festival a success year after year. It is, for the most part, free from politics, division, and discord and is more about unity, music, and celebrating the diversity that makes us all unique. But mostly, it’s all about the music.

We wasted no time in hitting the field to see what was on offer this year, and here’s our rundown of Day One.

After a fantastic Kaurna Welcome to Country, Polish band Warsaw Village Band were an inspired choice to open WOMADelaide. The ethereal sounds featured a huge booming drum strapped on to its wearer, a traditional double bass style instrument, haunting siren like singing by three female multi instrumentalists who had two violins between them, and a fascinating traditional form of glockenspiel.

French Canadian trio East Pointers put on an inspired folk performance with jangly guitar, banjo arpeggios and fiddle. With smooth vocals and stories about their origins they brought life to the chilled Moreton Bay stage, inspiring a few groups to try some jigs.

Greek Australian Luteist George Xylouris put on a display of lute playing which had an almost Arabic vein to it and combined it with peculiar type of traditional throat singing. With the instinctive textural drumming of The Dirty Three’s Jim White, the show varied from contemplative slower pieces to up tempo high intensity numbers with big snare drum jams and furious strumming.

On the Zoo stage, the heart and soul of Yolngu singer Gawurra resonated with the very receptive audience who were captivated by the ethereal beauty captured in language. Much like the music of Gurrumul, you don’t need to understand what is being said to feel the meaning(s) behind the songs. Gawurra’s style has a more contemporary indigenous feel to it, whilst remaining powerful with its pure earthiness. We caught up with him backstage, and he’s one of the most decent, down to earth guys you could meet, and a self-confessed ‘hugger.’

Ana Tijoux (Chile) was unmissable on stage two, with that massive brass sound really bringing on the Latin heat and with it a large crowd who were already grooving to the music.

South African Kasi Soul group The Soil showcased their emotional soul harmonies with deep beatboxing. The magical meditative sounds were perfect for transitioning from sunset to night.

Things got funky when The Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans burst onto the Foundation stage and hit the crowd with a horn section that melted your face off. Some of the members were big lads, and by geez they had a tremendously big sound to match. Their funk/brass versions of rap songs (think Snoop Doggy Dogg etc) showcased their traditional marching band jazz with funk, R&B and hip-hop. They are playing again Sunday of you missed them tonight.

Taking to Stage 2 well past their bedtime, the Manganiyar Classroom were a group of 35 young Indian lads aged between 8-16, assembled in a classroom setting with a teacher figure who forbids them from singing in class. What transpires is a musical rebellion by the lads, who taunt their teacher with some very traditional Rajasthan songs all sung by the boys. The teacher ends up swinging around to the boys’ way of thinking and the message is that music is a necessary part of their culture and education. It’s a fabulous work and the project directly funds a school for Manganiyar children.

One of Australia’s most innovative and bravest pop acts, Montaigne was in full voice on the Novatech stage. With a tight band providing crisp perfect rhythm and backing vocals she pranced around the stage, belting out her hits. With bigger stages beckoning in the future, this was a set to savour from the talented and inspired songsmith.

As the opening night drew to a close, Malian superstar Oumou Sangare a.k.a the ‘Songbird from Wassoulou’ gave her only performance which was ‘signature African’ with its vibrancy, colour and energy- it’s music that you can’t help but move to! Sangare is an outstanding human, who also advocates for women’s rights and is a successful businesswoman in addition to being a music legend.

It’s only day one, and there’s a massive schedule ahead for those attending including extra food stalls, on ground activities, roving performers- it’s all happening this weekend and you’d be (WO)MAD to miss it. See what we did there?

By Dazz Hassan & Gav De Almeida.


Photos: WOMADelaide 2017, Day 1

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