For the last 20 years, the Cat Empire have been synonymous with WOMADelaide, delivering many memorable performances at the festival. And Sunday night was no exception, with their nostalgia-tinged ‘final’ show in Adelaide (at least in their original line-up).
And Adelaide certainly showed up for the celebration – it was, by far, the most well-attended event on this WOMAD program, with the crowds surging into every available space at the Foundation Stage at the start of the performance.
As anticipated, the set-list leant heavily on the band’s earlier material, kicking off with the opening track from their first album, ‘How to Explain’, and then circling back to finish the encore with their anthem, ‘The Chariot’, also from that debut recording. In between they covered all of the outfit’s well-loved material and a few surprises along the way (Harry’s ‘Car Song’ was an unexpected delight).
There were also some typical WOMAD collaborations, particularly the mid-set flamenco dancing, that made this performance much more than just a greatest hits parade.
The performance was a fitting celebration and the best possible way to farewell the Cat Empire.
Earlier in the evening, on the same stage, Goanna also wound the clock back with a stirring dose of eighties activist rock. There were also collaborations aplenty here, with John Schumann, William Barton and Emma Donovan (herself fresh from her own powerful performance on Stage 2). Unsurprisingly, the highlight of the set was ‘Solid Rock’; the eighties hit closed the show -reimagined here with Barton’s yidaki and Donovan’s soulful vocals.
Another great moment on Sunday night was Carla Lippis’ Mondo Psycho cabaret extravaganza on Stage 7. With very few international acts this year, one of the excellent aspects of WOMADelaide 2022 was the chance to showcase local Adelaide acts, such as Lippis, who brought more than a touch of the theatrical to her performance. Commanding the stage in her black and white cabaret costume, she was incredible to watch. Backed by an excellent seven-piece band, she truly has one of the best voices in the business and this performance was a real treat for those who ventured to the far stage.
Once again blessed with perfect weather to complement the great music, Day 3 of WOMADelaide was certainly one to remember.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor and Libby Parker
Pictures by Tessa Manning