It was another sun-drenched day for the Sunday of WOMADelaide 2020 and, while the program may have been missing some of the star power of other days, there was a host of great performances to enjoy.
On the Foundation Stage at 2pm, Malaysia’s Orang Orang Drum Theatre delivered a dynamic performance that was great fun to watch, the artists moving about the stage creating their rhythms and simple melodies all through percussion.
In the afternoon slot of introspective singer-songerwriter material (rendered on a classical guitar with a small backing band) that was occupied by Aldous Harding on the Saturday was low-fi craftsman, Bill Callahan. Appropriately, this was a seated performance, encouraging the audience to sit back and let the affecting but simple musical dynamics wash over with the wry and insightful lyrics carried by Callahan’s baritone drawl.
Hiatus Kaiyote probably don’t get the recognition they deserve in this country, the Melbourne based neo-soul outfitting having been nominated more than once for a Grammy. So it was good to have them perform on the main stage in the post dinner slot. Given it was International Women’s Day and keyboard player, Simon Mavin’s birthday, the quartet were in a mood to celebrate. With great bass-lines that complement the syncopated rhythms, the music constantly surprises and never fails to engage. Add to this the searing jazz vocals of front-woman Nai Palm, and it’s a pretty irresistible musical package.
Meanwhile over on Stage 7, the talented Thandi Phoenix drew a younger, enthusiastic crowd, demonstrating just why her music is creating quite a buzz and catching the attention of Triple J programmers. Phoenix made a great addition to the WOMAD line-up and was well suited to the atmospheric vibe of the tree lined stage at the Frome Rd end of the park.
Brazilian superstar Jorge Ben Jor delivered the main evening set on the Foundation Stage, and it was superb. A feature of the performance was the use of the roof of the stage as a screen to project footage of the band and other images during the performance. It really created an intimacy amid the expanses of the main stage area – maybe should be used more often here! Ben Jor has an extensive back catalogue that stretches back to 1963 and delivered a great collections of songs. Managing to draw equally on his Latin American background and rock’n’roll music, while also leaning on big band and reggae influences, it was a great way to end the night.
For those who were kicking on, Briggs backed up his guest spot with Spinifex Gum on Saturday evening with a characteristically energetic late night performance on Stage 2 that created quite a stampede at 10:45.
One of the innovations of WOMADelaide 2020 is the light installations around the park called Monuments. The faces projected onto trees are something to behold, with the magic they create causing people to to stop in their tracks and marvel. And if you wait and watch, they may even wink at you.
Three days done. One very big Monday to follow.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor and Libby Parker
Photos by Tessa Manning