The Specials headline WOMADelaide’s silver jubilee festival in right royal style

La Mambanegra on the Foundation Stage

By Deb Kloeden, Adelaide correspondent

REVIEW: WOMADelaide 2017, 10th march – 13th March, Adelaide.

Over 400 artists from 30 different countries treated more than 90,000 people to 4 days of pure cultural heaven in Adelaide’s beautiful Botanic Park. Music, dance, pop-up performances, fire sculptures, passionate live discussions, taste sensations, kidzone, the healing village, the global village and a hundred and one other surprises helped make this year’s festival one of the best yet.

WOMADelaide17 began on Friday afternoon with the traditional ‘Kaurna Welcome’, quickly followed by a blast of music from three different stages at one time, all strategically placed so they don’t disturb one another. My first highlight came with ANA TIJOUX, a Chilean rap artist who, although singing in Spanish, captivated the crowd with her rhythmic sounds and metered beats. Determined to fit as much in as possible on the first night, I next caught THE HOT 8 BRASS BAND from New Orleans who played a fun-filled mix of original music and innovative covers such as Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’. In the same time slot I also caught some of South Africa’s THE SOIL, for some harmonious soul, jazz, beat-boxing and gospel. One of the real highlights for me on opening night was Sydney’s MONTAIGNE, who gave an energetic and crowd inclusive performance on the far flung Novatech Stage. She was really vibrant live, and appealed to the younger crowd due to her popular chart hits like ‘Because I Love You’. I finished the night with the gifted songbird OUMOU SANGARE, from Mali to complete my round the world experience.

The Hanoi Masters

Day 2 started for me with THE HANOI MASTERS playing traditional Vietnamese instruments. It is always fascinating to see how they are played and the sounds they produce. In contrast, TAGO gave a powerful display of Korean drumming and precision movement, at the same time demonstrating an unexpected sense of humour. NATTALI RIZE, (perhaps best known as front-woman for Australia’s roots favourites, Blue King Brown) performed with her new Jamaican International project, performing new-conscious reggae. I enjoyed their performance so much, that I fronted up for their second show on Monday as well. Playing at the same time on Saturday was popular US singer TONI CHILDS, who now gives her voice to major global causes. DOPE LEMON (aka Angus Stone from Julia & Angus Stone) presented his new music journey of tantalizing acoustic strumming and dreamy vocals. Then came THE WAIFS, celebrating 25 years together. They performed all their most popular signature songs like ‘London Still’ and ‘Lighthouse’, proving they are still a force to be reckoned with. They were hugely popular and drew an enormous crowd. I finished the evening with Melbourne-based 30/70, who cleverly blended soul, blues, rock and hip-hop. Lead singer Allysha Joy, has a smooth, late-night lounge bar voice.

Jesse Davidson

Day 3 brought a little rain which failed to dampen our mood. During the one heavier shower, I caught Adelaide’s JESSE DAVIDSON for a dose of his dreamy sound-scapes and amazing vocal range. This was followed by another Australian making it big at the moment, D.D DUMBO who is normally a one-man band with a plethora of interesting instruments. His vocal sound reminds me a little of Jon Anderson from Yes. The OKI DUB AINU BAND was a treat for sore eyes and ears. Their Japanese costumes were captivating. Oki Kano was dressed in a costume that reminded me of a cross between a Samurai and Genghis khan, while playing a traditional Tonkori, a forgotten Ainu stringed instrument. Their Japanese-influenced dub had me mesmerized for the entire hour of their performance. Then the entire WOMAD crowd (or so it seemed) settled down to be taken on an amazing journey of film and live orchestral score for the screening of KOYAANISQATS, the 1982 apocalyptic film. THE PHILIP GLASS ENSEMBLE played the entire music score live. It was a totally enthralling and powerful presentation. An experience I will never forget. To finish the night I chose a lighter theme, PAROV STELAR, an Austrian electro-swing band, for an uplifting, fun dance session.

BaBa Zula

Day 4 drew me to LAMINE SONKO & THE AFRICAN INTELLIGENCE, for some modern West African roots music. They are a high-energy 10-piece band, spreading powerful messages about equality and diversity. After enjoying NATTALI RIZE for the second time, I moved on to see L-FRESH THE LION for some Indian hip-hop. He really got the crowd jumping. BABA ZULA gave a Turkish psychedelic-rock performance, enthralling the crowd with their costumes and interesting instruments. A.B ORIGINALS (their name gives away their culture) were extremely popular sending messages through hip-hop of national consciousness. Their song ‘January 26’ sends a message about the controversial date of Australia Day, the day white man landed and claimed ownership of Australian soil. Visually, one of the highlights of the festival was Icelandic duo KIASMOS with their stunning laser light show and hypnotic dance/trance electronica. But I had to leave their set early to make it for the beginning of headline act THE SPECIALS, who basically closed this year’s festival. The 1979 UK Ska band performed all their hits including opening song ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Gangster’ and ‘A Message for you Rudy’. Predictably they pulled a huge crowd of loyal fans and were a fitting end to another wonderful WOMADelaide.

Although I am a regular at WOMADelaide, I am always amazed at the organization and precision running of the event. Congratulations WOMAD team, you did it again!





The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission to Rock at Night and the photographer. Use of any image is a violation of the United States and International Copyright laws.




Deb Kloeden


Leave a Reply