By Deb Kloeden, Rock At Night Adelaide
REVIEW: WOMADelaide 2019, Botanic Park, 8th March – 11th March, Adelaide.
Adelaide, South Australia comes alive in March with The Adelaide Festival of Arts, The Adelaide Fringe, Superloop 500 and my favourite, the 4 day WOMAdelaide World Music Festival. Over 90,000 people attended this year’s festival, revelling in a true celebration of life, culture, music, art and dance. And this year the weather was perfect (not 40C)
WOMADelaide is not just about music and dance, it encompasses art, roving performances, provocative and thought provoking discussions, tastes of the world, workshops and much, much more. There really is something for everyone of all ages.
For me the festival began Friday night with Soweto’s BCUC who treated us to some fun South African hip-hop and a power of energy that really got the crowd dancing. I then caught Adelaide artist TIMBERWOLF, a personal favourite of mine. He and his band treated the large crowd to some new music, including his new single ‘Proud Silence’. A new discovery for me was Welsh retro, futuristic singer-songwriter GWENNO. She had me absolutely captivated for her whole set. I literally had to drag myself away to make it to CHRISTINE & THE QUEENS, who closed the Foundation stage with an incredible set of choreographed dance and powerful synth-pop beats.
My Saturday line-up started early, as I was very keen to see Dutch/NZ band MY BABY again. I discovered this band in New Zealand over New Year and was really keen to see them again. The charismatic trio delivered a versatile mix of roots-driven hypnotic dance, influenced by blues and funk. Next I caught Melbourne-based AMARU TRIBE, a real mix of South American musical cultures. Their beat driven, powerful vocal harmonies really got the crowd dancing. German band LaBrassBanda put on a fun show of folk, ska, punk, techno and reggae brass sounds. Welsh Folk act MABON provided an entertaining show of duelling violin and piano accordion.
Each day, toward dusk THE COLOUR OF TIME procession made it’s way through the park, paying homage to India’s traditional Holi Festival. Explosions of coloured powder burst into the air creating a colourful celebration of life.
One of my favourite Australian bands, JOHN BUTLER TRIO delighted an enormous crowd on the main stage, returning to WOMADelaide after 11 years. The band gave us a wonderful taste of the new album ‘Home’, as well as performing eternal favourites such as ‘Zebra’ and ‘Better Than’. Next I caught Melbourne singer-songwriter THANDO for some Rnb, followed by the very energetic THE CORRESPONDENTS from UK. The singer/producer combo delivered a hi-octane performance. I fitted in some dancefloor-oriented Afro House with DIGITAL AFRICA, before lining up for the very fun Kiwi outfit FAT FREDDY’S DROP.
I have followed FAT FREDDY’S DROP since their inception. Their dub/reggae vibe is truly infectious and they gave a wonderful hour and a half long set ending up at 12:30 am. They are currently working on new music and performed a couple of new songs for us, as well as turning their already long popular hits into even longer jam sessions.
I started Sunday with award winning Indigenous Australian folk-pop artist THELMA PLUM. She drew a huge crowd despite the early afternoon time-slot. Next I took some time to listen to one of The Planet talks sessions. Australian political cartoonist FIRST DOG ON THE MOON gave an entertaining, but thought provoking presentation about the impending apocalypse, using a combination of witty rhetoric and a humorous sophisticated slide presentation, featuring his own cartoons. Basically …. We’re doomed!
The very fun UKULELE DEATH SQUAD set the pace from the first note, covering Flamenco, Mexican, Rap and Folk with their humble ukuleles. From there I raced to TASTE THE WORLD to see MY BABY prepare their favourite Dutch dish (Zuulschotel Met Gehakt) of mashed potato, sauerkraut, slow fried mince and cheese, while giving an incite into their origins and musical backgrounds.
Another Adelaide artist to feature at WOMADelaide was ADRIAN EAGLE, recent winner of Best New Artist at the SA Music Awards. His reggae/hip-hop inspired soul is really quite infectious. From there I caught German DJ/singer SHANTEL & BUCOVINA CLUB ORKESTAR who injects gypsy brass and Balkan music into modern electronica.
Everyone was waiting with great anticipation for the amazing African diva ANGELIQUE KIDJO, who performed Talking Heads’ ground-breaking album ‘Remain In Light’, which was heavily influenced by West African music. She graced the stage dressed, as usual, in a stunning, colourful costume. She gave a show to remember, making sure no one kept their feet still.
Monday started in Southern Italy with CANZONIERE GRECANICO SALENTINO. Their music is hypnotic and giddying served with a stunning stage show. Next I was very keen to see Melbourne based HARTS shred guitar again. Having impressed the late, great Prince, he is also likened to Jimi Hendrix and Lenny Kravitz. Needless to say he gave an amazing show.
I was very keen to see Australian Indigenous artist MOJO JUJU, who defies definition. Her powerful voice and messages really resonated deep. The final Adelaide musician to appear at WOMADelaide was the very popular singer-songwriter OLLIE ENGLISH. Winner of the Most Popular Blues & Roots Award at the SA Music Awards, he captivated his audience with his soulful rock anthems.
The final act on the main stage was none other than THE ORIGINAL GYPSIES (formerly The Gypsy Kings) who have reunited after more than 20 years. Determined to fill the stage with their 12-piece band, they gave everyone a sensational finale. I also caught the end of 2-piece DuOuD, who were playing at the same time. They mixed the North African Oud with electronic technology, producing a creative, experimental sound that left me absolutely convinced that you never know what delights are around the corner at WOMADelaide.
Check out the playlist below to hear these amazing artists.
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