Bambino at WOMADelaide
Bombino at WOMADelaide

The WOMADelaide weekend kicked off in a relaxed and welcoming fashion last night. With a singer-songwriter focus to the night’s programming, the steadily building crowd were presented with the perfect opportunity to kick back after the working week and soak up the unique chilled vibe of this event. Even the weather got on board: a clear night with a gentle breeze; this was a night for a picnic blanket and a bottle (or two) of wine.

Starting things off on the main stage was The Painted Ladies, a collective of indigenous musicians playing laid-back blues with a tinge of country. This is protest music at its most charming. In a nice touch, Vic Simms, whose songs the group have recently re-recorded joined the performance half way through the set.

Over on Stage 2 we got Bombino with their African desert blues. The set was one almighty blues jam, complete with solos from drums and bass, and some sweet Fender tones. Their performance was a real highlight of the evening and will be well worth catching when they play again on Monday.

The Buena Vista Sessions gave a taste of what can be expected from the full Buena Vista Orchestra on Saturday night, with some infectious Latin grooves.

Sharon Van Etten performs at WOMADelaide
Sharon Van Etten performs at WOMADelaide

We then moved into singer-songwriter mode, starting with Sharon Van Etten. The crowd on Stage 3 were a little subdued, but she showed that her voice is every bit as haunting and penetrating in live performance as it sounds on her beautiful 2014 album. We were also treated to some new songs in the set.

The main act of the night on Stage 1 was Rufus Wainwright. The crowd swelled in for this and were treated to an amazing voice that soared above the Botanic Park trees and a charming set of songs, including his cover of “Hallelujah”.

Public Service Broadcasting then took the late shift with their unique electro-indie-rock-audio visual experience.

While the first night of WOMADelaide 2015 was not so much about getting your dance on, it was a great way to chill with a wine in hand and hear some fantastic songs. Bring on the rest of the weekend!

Read our reviews of day two, day three and day four.

By Matthew Trainor