March 16, 2012

Capacity crowd gathers to celebrate a world of diversity

Filed under: 2012,Archive,Womadelaide

March 13, 2012

Adelaide Festival 2012

WOMADelaide 2012
Botanic Park, Adelaide
March 9 – 12.

It is now twenty years since the first WOMAD, scheduled as part of the 1992 Adelaide Festival, introduced world music to Australian audiences. The original program lineup was modest in number but not in stature – introducing, among others, Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, violinist Dr L. Subramaniam, and, memorably, the charismatic Pakistani qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. From there, this unique festival established a momentum that continues to flourish.

This year, a near-capacity audience clicked 87,000 attendances over four days and nights in the green and shady expanse of Botanic Park. 61 acts featured on seven stages in a diverse program full of treats and surprises. Early festival highlights included a full-tilt show from Chic, the 70s disco hit machine led by producer /writer Nile Rodgers (playing all the singles including Le Freak), and a late-night set from Dirty Three, with Warren Ellis weaving his mercurial violin through The Zither Player and aptly, from their most recent CD, Moon on the Land.

Other Australian acts included, from Broome, the Pigram Brothers, the knockout reggae roots band Blue King Brown, and the haunting vocals of Gurrumul whose late afternoon concert attracted one of the largest audiences of the weekend.

Women artists feature prominently at WOMAD and this time was no exception. Scottish singer Eddi Reader sang new songs Dragonfly and Silent Bells, Perfect, her hit single from back in the Fairground Attraction days, and My Love is Like a Red Red Rose, one of her many memorable settings of the poems of Robbie Burns.
Also creating a buzz was First Aid Kit, a young Swedish sister duo with songs from their US recorded album The Lion Roars, including the title song and a tribute to their country music idol Emmylou.

A Sunday night favourite was Grammy winner Dobet Gnahore, from the Ivory Coast, performing with three outstanding musicians including her husband and co-writer Colin Laroche de Feline. Striking looking in her face paint, her dreadlocks drawn back with a scarlet scarf, she captured the crowd with her expressive voice and lithe, athletic dancing – she is a global music star.

The final day had many pleasures including the eccentric Japanese group, Pascals, playing banjo, violins, toy pianos and duck whistles, Penguin Café performing the theme from the film Malcolm, and an upbeat show from veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Johnny Clegg.

But the night went to the frenetic closing set from Baaba Maal, from Senegal. Looking like a Venetian doge in his satin cloak and surrounded by drummers and dancers, he spoke and sang about justice for Africa, the Dakar Moon and created magic with the closer, Yiriyaro (Percussion Storm). Once again, WOMADelaide has the world on a musical string.

Murray Bramwell

“Capacity crowd gathers to celebrate a world of diversity” The Australian, March 14, 2012, p.17.

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