WOMADelaide 2017 kicked off in stunning conditions last night and, with the threat of rain later in the weekend, the enthusiastic Friday evening crowd were determined to make the most of the opportunity.
On Stage 3 in the early evening slot, Xlyouris White showcased the kind of collaboration that’s just perfect for WOMAD, combining the frenetic Cretan lute of George Xylouris with the distinctive drumming of Australia’s Jim White. There was an intensity about the performance that really engaged the audience and made for a terrific way to begin the festival. The pair were evidently enjoying themselves as well, displaying fantastic on stage chemistry.
If there was a perfect way to get the energy going on the Foundation Stage, Hot 8 Brass Band was definitely it. High energy, tight musicianship, enormous fun and totally infectious, Hot 8 had the park partying. If you missed them at WOMAD, catch them on the Riverbank Palais on Thursday March 16.
Montaigne drew a large crowd amongst the trees at the Novatech stage for her 9pm set, and seemed genuinely humbled by the crowd and the enthusiastic response. She bantered freely with the audience, throwing herself into the performance with a fine vocal display and some energetic dancing.
Cie Carabosse is an interactive art installation located near the Frome Rd exit and runs nightly throughout the festival. Making impressive use of fire and executed on a large scale, it is definitely something that should be experienced during your WOMAD weekend.
Back at the main stage, Oumou Sangare performed a feature set that built nicely. Starting with some chilled Malian rhythms, the music evolved to a funky crescendo that had everyone on their feet enjoying the infectious groove. Sangare has a strong stage presence and a powerful voice to match.
Meanwhile, one of the highlights of the night was to be found over at the smaller Zoo Stage, where Caiti Baker gave a terrific performance marrying old school blues with touches of hip hop and electronic sampling. Baker (who featured on the AB Original album and will perform with them on Monday) has an arsenal of well-crafted songs and the kind of affable persona that makes it easy to engage with the performance. With excellent vocal control, she also has a beautiful voice that you just want to hear more of.
As per WOMADedaide tradition, the evening closed with a DJ set at the Novatech Stage. For opening night this was Rich Medina from Philidelphia, who delivered a crowd-pleasing set, mixing soul, funk and disco. It was a terrific way to round out an impressive start to WOMADelaide 2017.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor and Libby Parker
Photos by Tessa Manning