Things got going with some very WOMAD combinations of musical styles. Tjintu Desert Band on Stage 2 were blending the sounds of the outback with reggae; this might not seem like a natural pairing, but it really works and provided a great start to the day. At the same time on Stage 3 we had Hi-Tops Brass Band featuring Shazza T, mixing Aussie hip hip with New Orlean brass. It was an energising performance that garnered a very positive reaction from the early crowd, particularly with their cover of Kanye’s “Gold Digger”.
Spanish outfit Depedro was first up on Stage 1, presenting a lively set of well-crafted and dynamic songs and pushing out more sound than a three-piece really should.
This was also the first day of Kidzone, where young festival attendees could have their face painted, jump on a bouncy castle, enjoy some educational fun at SA Museum’s Explorers’ Tent and much, much more. SA’s youth arts organisation Carclew are again providing their annual multicultural arts and crafts workshops. Parents or care-givers can book their children (aged between 5 and 12 years) to make crafts like Guatemalan Figures, Chinese Wishing Lanterns, Quirky Crowns and colourful chandeliers.
The affable and engaging children’s writer Andy Griffiths also appeared on the Kidzone stage at 3 o’clock, holding an informal Q&A with his numerous young fans, before staying for hours to sign copies of his books; spending time with each youngster, he proved why he’s one of Australia’s favourite kids’ authors.
Speaking sessions are once again a feature of WOMADelaide, with Artist in Conversation spots and The Planet Talks both happening at Speaker’s Corner. It’s unfortunate, however, that following the popularity of these last year, that the space has not been expanded. The speaking tent was overwhelmed by those who turned up for Peter Garrett interviewing Youssou N’Dour, and it’s a shame that many found it difficult to engage with the conversation from outside the tent.
Mid afternoon, over on the Internode Centre Stage, Luzmila Carpio offered her unique Bolivian folk music. She sang songs about nature and her connection with the land and proved, with her impressively high range, why she’s been dubbed ‘the singing violin‘,
With the sun getting lower, CW Stoneking provided the perfect transition into the night performances. His old school blues might seem better suited to smoky bars than the expansive parklands of WOMAD but it worked a treat. He is a truly unique performer, supported by a slick band that includes the exquisite backing vocals of Vicka and Linda Bull, and throughout the set, the crowd were up and moving to his infectious blues boogie.
CW Stoneking is a hard act to follow, but Balkan Beat Box cranked the grooves up a notch and had everyone again up dancing on the main stage. As the sun started to set, the Israeli group raised the energy levels, playing their electro gypsy punk, and demanding the crowd jump and dance.
The Colour of Time is one of the new features this WOMADelaide. It’s a roving dance party starting from the Holy Cow Chai Tent that drowns the participants in colour. It’s a whole lot of fun but make sure you’re not wearing your best clothes!
Flavia Coelho’s performance was one of the highlights of this (or any) WOMAD. Talented, charismatic and sexy, she engaged the audience as few performers can with an interactive and energetic display. Be sure to catch her repeat set today at 2pm. It’s a shame that she wasn’t programmed later in the evening, as her performance would have made the perfect night time party set.
Back on the main stage Jupiter & Okwess International had the audience moving with their Congolese funk rock, while Criolo had an impressive set up of musicians and scratch DJs bringing us his soulful hip hop on Stage 2.
The main act for the night was the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club. Following the previous night’s Buena Vista Session, we now got to hear the complete orchestra. The full sound of this group of uber-talented musicians is something to behold and it was a privilege to catch them on their farewell tour. Their infectious rhythms had many in the audience trying out their salsa dancing skills.
Over on the Zoo Stage Fourplay were providing a quieter end to the night with their unique blend of contemporary song writing with string quartet. After a very relaxed set, their cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” was a fun way to finish.
The night was rounded off by a dynamic set from Chicago DJ Theo Parrish, who mixes modern electronica with the soulful grooves of the past, complete with an impressive light display.
WOMADdelaide 2015 is certainly in full swing. If the first half of the festival is anything to go by, you won’t want to miss out on what’s still to come!
By Matthew Trainor and Libby Parker
Photos by Alyssa Morran