With many of the amazing musical acts already covered, the fourth and final day of WOMADelaide was an opportunity to check some of the other happenings around Botanic Park. Chinese act ShanRen were showing off their cooking skills in the Taste The World tent, with their Ximeng Pumpkin Rice providing the perfect seductive fragrance to teas one’s taste buds into a lunchtime frenzy. The members of the band also spoke candidly about how they met and are essentially school buddies who loved playing music together. Australian group Flamenco Dance Areti’s workshop was well received by audience members although it lacked participation, the whole point of the session.
Over on Stage 3, Aussie legend Jeff Lang warmed things up with a percussive, lap-slide driven set that was impressive and what you’d expect from him and his band. They rocked the park with their pulsating rhythms and the crowd took notice.
Nearby, Cie Fracasse de 12 (France) put on a ‘precision wheelie bin’ show that put the Holden Precision Driving team to shame. Well, not really but it was entertaining and funny watching these ‘creative council workers’ add meaning to enjoying your work.
Once again, Pokey La Farge (USA) stole the show on a deservedly bigger stage than the previous day and gave their all to make for a show that put smiles on faces.
A slight change of pace and genre, Asif Ali Khan (Pakistan) transformed the Internode Centre Stage into a bed of Pakistani spice full of tabla, harmonium (a small portable hand-pumped keyboard instrument) and spiritual Qawwali chants reminiscent of his teacher, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and were clearly also a crowd favourite.
At the end of their workshop, Azadoota (Iraq/Australia) had their audience doing an Iraqi version of a Conga Line, thus proving their worth in getting people up and into it.
Danyel Waro (Reunion) was again brilliant on the larger Stage 2, and then Dub Inc (France) gave it their all in their final performance for WOMADelaide.
Greg Sheehan from Jeff Lang’s band held a workshop over on the Zoo Stage with an interactive rhythmic clapping exercise that more resembled an aerobics workout.
Headliner Billy Bragg (UK) a.k.a the ‘Bard of Britain’ played his usual mix of thought provoking folk and protest songs such as “No-one Knows Nothing Anymore’. Bragg’s musical storytelling and lyrical statements still have most of the same sentiment as in years gone by, but as a final night act was underwhelming and lacked build up and energy for an expected climax to the final day.
Overall though, WOMADelaide 2014 was a magical experience and one which organizers have every right to be proud of. Given the amount of people and consumption each day, unlike other concerts of similar scale, there was virtually zero trash being left on the ground, with people also making the effort to use manners, courtesy and respect towards fellow festival-goers. Bravo!
A Police spokesperson praised crowds who were generally well behaved and respectful, and stated that nothing untoward was reported over the duration of WOMADelaide. A St John’s Ambulance spokesperson also reported minimal injuries, with a few minor cuts and scrapes to people’s bare feet being the primary concern over the 4 days. Crowds kept hydrated and were sun smart thanks to free sunscreen as well as complimentary earplugs and Band-Aids.
Food and beverage choices this year were quite diverse and of decent quality although some vendors were perhaps a little overpriced. The Coopers Bars scattered throughout the grounds were a welcome source of liquid refreshments, although they too were a little overpriced at $8 for a 380ml glass of beer or can but that is merely the opinion of this writer.
The KidZone was a triumph this year, with Carclew, Nylon Zoo and Box Wars being the standouts of the Free activities provided. Polyglot Theatre also put in a sterling effort with their Ants performance. It was a steamy 4 days, and to go in and give 100% to make kids smile is noteworthy. GlamAdelaide writer Libby Parker wrote this informative piece about her time volunteering in the KidZone.
WOMADelaide leaves us for another year, and we can only look forward to what 2015 will have on offer. The acts rounded up this year were world class, and organizers will always have a tough task of upping the ante for the next year. Judging by the overall success of this year’s Festival though, it shouldn’t be a problem!
Reviewed by Darren Hassan