Earlier in the day Azadoota (Iraq/Aus) opened the Speakers Corner stage with a colourful and bright set consisting of some distinctly Middle Eastern sounds whilst Hanggai (China) once again took the crowd on a Mongolian horseback journey with their high-energy Mongolian influences.
Baby et Lulu (Australia) featuring the divine vocals of none other than Abby Dobson (ex Leonardo’s Bride) and Lara Goodridge gave a classy French infused performance with their set, and Dobson’s version of her hit ‘Even When I’m Sleeping’ sung in French was just as powerful and soul stirring as the original.
Dub Inc (France) drew a strong crowd, which they worked up with a blend of reggae/dub/ska and hip-hop with both a French and Arab twist. Singers Hakim and Aurelien bounced off each other brilliantly, and the crowd clearly not phased by the afternoon heat jumped and hopped to their animated set.
At a workshop, Zimbabwe musicians Mokoomba based their rhythms on tight high-toned Congo drums, rumbling bass riffs, while the fantastic African harmonies, lingering melodies, and beautiful guitar arpeggios transferred perfectly. The crowd happily matched the performers dance patterns. Educational discussion though was sadly minimal.
Island nation of Réunion has much to be proud in Danyel Waro, an amazing musician tying together three continents in an amazing display with silky, emotive, yet unusual vocals. Danyel’s band utilised a range of percussion to fill out the overall texture and also provided warm vocal harmonies to round out the sound and create a trance like Creole environment.
Tunisian protest singer Emel Mathlouthi gave haunting sounds of the Middle East that grabbed the complete attention of the spellbound audience. Her voice, much like her music, tells of her own struggles within. Her version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah though, evoked such emotion and highlighted her softer vocal side.
Local performer Loren Kate (Australia) drew a sizeable and adoring crowd on the Moreton Bay Stage, and her sultry dulcet tones accompanied by acoustic guitar were deep and honest. It is indeed great to see local artists getting the opportunity to share the stage with international acts- a credit to WOMADelaide organizers!
Ramping things up somewhat, Osaka Monaurail (Japan) proved themselves to be the custodians of James Brown’s soul and delivered a superb funky set that made it impossible not to get your groove on.
Singing songs of the land and the journey of his people, Kutcha Edwards (Australia) with his bluesy, soul voice was impressive with his set, and interacted with his audience quite well, often being humorous yet honest with songs like ‘Waiting’, about breaking free from being in the care of the government and reuniting with his mother.
Megan Washington (Australia) had a soft sublime aspect to her set that was stripped back and allowed her vocals to shine through more than before. Her guitarist had a fantastic tone and some sweet harmonies. The sound was clear and perfect.
Sam Lee and Friends (UK) gave traditional folk songs with a Celtic feel to them which was a nice way to cool down after a full on day with more to come. Living Room (Austria) were also a good option in the shade away from the hot afternoon sun. The experimental percussion was a good base for the soft baritone sax.
Ane Brun (Sweden/Norway) was entrancing and her bands harmonies, both male and female, were powerful and reminiscent of Portishead.
Ngaiire (Australia) and her band absolutely tore the stage down. With sample pads, crossing electro with live percussion, and then her PNG roots bringing a different edge, the act brought a great sound. The elaborate headdress also added a cool visual element.
Roberto Fonseca (Cuba) formerly of Buena Vista Social Club led a very talented cast of Latin jazz dynamos. The phenomenal drummer was a definite highlight.
Back over on Stage 7, Shan Ren (China) which translates as ‘mountain people’ were showcasing traditional Chinese music blended with jumpy folk songs along with some reggae and rock, which got the post-dinner crowd back up and dancing.
Progressive RnB/soul fusion band Hiatus Kaiyote (Australia) are simply one of the best live acts going around Australia. Their warm, ambient music is like a sonic rich text. Some amazing stuff happening with this group and definitely worth revisiting.
Norwegian sensation Mikhael Paskalev drew a large crowd of mainly young Y-Gen’s and, whilst getting off to a slower start with some ballads and softer songs, received a huge response.
Finally, Old school hip-hop and RnB legends Arrested Development (USA) commanded the crowd effortlessly with a dazzling display of early 90s classic rap coupled with ‘call and answer’ anthemic female vocals. The undeniable groove generated a buzz throughout a huge main stage crowd and was a perfect culmination of a great second day.
Reviewed by Darren Hassan & Gavin De Almeida