Not even the impending rain was going to keep crowds away on an unusually grey and wet Sunday WOMADelaide session at Botanic Park.
Having taken the earlier part of the day to check out the on-ground activities, there were some typically interesting sights to see around the Park. The Kid Zone had plenty of activities for the little ones, including my personal favourite the Nylon Zoo by Evelyn Roth. Cie Ekart’s ‘Les Dodos’ were amusing as two performers riding giant Dodo birds jostled through the crowd, stopping to interact and pose for pictures. Equally amusing were Les Goulus’ ‘The Horsemen’, a trio of equestrian buffoons on a mission to cause equestrian havoc on the crowds.
This year’s food offerings were plentiful and had more choices than the previous years. Prices were reasonable for a Festival, and it’s one of the highlights of the 4 days to be able to experience a world of cuisines only a stone’s throw from each other. Another move forward for organisers this year were the additional toilets placed around the grounds, thus minimising the horrendous line-ups experienced usually after mealtimes or on warmer days when people tend to imbibe that bit more.
The genuine friendliness between people is a regular phenomenon at WOMADelaide, and the opportunity to strike up conversations with random strangers often presents itself. It is one of the great things about an environment that transcends politics and the drudgery of global issues, and is focussed on uniting us by celebrating culture through music and dance. Kudos must go not only to the Festival organisers who work tirelessly at keeping things turning, but also to those who attend in the spirit of harmony and togetherness- a much needed thing in a sometimes divided world!
But I digress, let us get back to the music!
Our first act for the day was Nhatty Man & Ghara (Ethiopia/Aus) which were a huge Ethio-jazz sound full of brass and percussion, kicking off our day at the right energy level and setting the pace just nicely. The Piyut Ensemble from Jerusalem mesmerised their audience with their transcendent vocal harmonies. The 14 piece choir draws inspiration from Middle Eastern and North African synagogue melodies and is music that will inspire your imagination.
When asked about their musical style, Bokante` (USA/Guadeloupe) answers with Blues, West African and Led Zeppelin vibes. With an exceptional collaboration of artists, all hailing from opposite sides of the world, Bokante` corresponds via email and deliver a flawless and invigorating musical experience.
The African Dance workshop by Lamine Sonko on the Zoo Stage was unmissable- you could not only hear it from afar but you could feel the energy as he worked the audience into an ‘African Aerobics’ session of sorts. The mass of bodies moving to the hypnotic drum beats was sensational.
As the rain set in, we headed to Stage 3 and propped down to hear Australian music icon Archie Roach perform a seated show to a capacity crowd that didn’t budge when it started to pour. Roach’s set was honest, vulnerable, and expectedly brilliant as he told stories about his life, and the theme of children throughout his songs. Simply brilliant!
The rain also didn’t dampen Jesse Davidson’s set. From Adelaide, Jesse and the ‘Bois’ delivered with their seamless Indie sound. Davidson’s smooth vocals and illuminous guitar riffs sonically warmed the Moreton Bay arena. Playing a mix of old and new songs, the audience embraced the alternative set with open arms – and umbrellas! Sudha Ragunathan (India) cleared the skies at her seated performance on the Zoo Stage in what was a serene display of absolute vocal control and rich melodies. Her voice is rightly described as a rich tapestry with unusual timbres, as she hits notes that surpass normal registers.
Aziza Brahim (Western Sahara/Spain) was an interesting mix of Western Saharan traditional and contemporary sounds which were a hybrid of funk, jazz and blues. It was quite groovy in places and poetic with its earthly roots.
DD Dumbo aka Oliver Hugh Perry is an Australian artist from Castlemaine, Victoria. His Alternative performance was manic and energetic. With unpredictable composition and penetrating vocals DD Dumbo is an exciting act to witness. Perry’s vocals were bright, bold and flawless. He uses a myriad of instruments and loops, choreographed perfectly to bring an intellectual Indie sound.
Our final act for this night was Bebel Gilberto (Brazil), daughter of renowned singer João Gilberto who also had a seated performance on the main stage. It was a Bossa Nova/Samba feel, very breezy and smooth-a perfect soundtrack to be sitting beachside with a cocktail or three.
Time to get some rest for the final day of WOMAD. It has been a busy 3 days so far but most enjoyable.
By Dazz Hassan & Kat Yeend