Day Three of WOMADelaide promised a surprise guest to kick things off on the Foundation Stage; this turned out to be quite a treat with a performance from Fringe circus act, Barbu. The Canadian troupe who have been wowing audiences at the Royal Croquet Club with acrobatics, physical comedy and electro-trad music were a perfect fit for a WOMAD showcase and delighted the early afternoon crowd.
As the temperature rose, Ibeyi took to Stage 2 with another soulful performance to back up their set from the previous day. The French-Cuban twins, who perform without any backing band, know how to fill a stage with sound: with rich harmonies and innovative use of percussion, their live show manages to surpass their recordings. At just 20 years of age they possess that innate ability to engage an audience, chatting in between songs and involving the crowd in the performance.
Canadian folk trio The Once presented a a wistful set of songs (including a nice cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U”), all delivered with strong harmonies and humour. However, playing on the Zoo Stage, they suffered from the volume issues that have beset performances there this year. Today’s set at the Moreton Bay Stage should provide a better context for their show.
Sarah Blasko had the 4pm slot at Stage 2 when the sun was at its hottest, but managed to draw a sizeable and enthusiastic audience. Some of the band’s equipment, however, did not fare so well in the heat, leading to a few technical difficulties. If Blasko and her band were frustrated by any of this they didn’t let it show, delivering a polished set and treating any distractions with good humour. Given the focus of new album Eternal Return, there was plenty of synth on stage and the setlist showcased many of the gems from this release. Mid-set, Blasko dipped into her impressive back-catalogue, even pulling out a track from her debut album, before finishing up with a passionate rendering of ‘I Awake’. The singer was in fine voice, whetting our appetite for her upcoming headline show at Norwood Town Hall.
As the sun began to dip, the Foundation Stage played host to flamenco extraordinaire Deigo El Cigala. The cool Cuban rhythms provided the perfect early evening soundtrack and set the tone for a pleasantly chilled Sunday night at WOMADelaide.
Each year, the festival has some exciting and unique roving performances. Romantic Botanic is one such theatrical offering this year. Our tour guides take us through the Gardens in search of a lover – a lover for the eucalyptus trees in Kew, that is. We visit many of the flora and foliage meeting some extraordinary characters along the way. It’s good fun and a nice way to appreciate our WOMADelaide surroundings.
Ester Rada’s smooth vocals filled the park from Stage 2 at 6pm. The Israeli singer presented a blend of R&B, funk and soulful grooves which pleased the early evening revelers who were ready to dance the night away.
Calexico returned after their Day 2 performance, beginning in more low-key fashion than the previous day before building the energy with a large and lively crowd back on the Foundation Stage. With the previous set running under an hour, it was a delight to see this talented band in an extended performance, delivering an uplifting 75 minute show that really hit the spot with festival-goers.
Over at the atmospheric Moreton Bay Stage, Sydney act, Radical Son played some sweet soul, tinged with elements of blues, reggae and hip-hop. Lead singer, David Leha is a charismatic figure with a powerful voice, a frontman who connects easily with an audience. Radical Son were one of those great WOMAD discoveries that you just happen on.
St Germain was the final act on the Foundation Stage. With cool jazz and electro-loops there was a very different atmosphere to Del La Soul’s high energy closing set of the previous evening. There would be no audience interaction tonight, instead the hypnotic instrumentals, leaning heavily on Malian rhythms, built a chilled vibe, perfect for swaying along to with a glass of wine in hand.
Sunday at WOMAD was a hot day that gave way to a nicely chilled night, leaving just enough energy for one more tilt today.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor and Libby Parker; pictures by Alyssa Morran and Libby Parker.