A good proportion of the World of Music and Dance highlights of WOMADelaide Day Three revolved around Africa.
The big evening attraction on the Foundation Stage was Sampa the Great. The last time the Zambian artist played WOMADelaide a few years ago was to a much smaller audience at Stage 7 – and the performance was a real calling card. Now she returns a worldwide superstar and delivered a stunning performance that had the crowd waving hands and dancing. During the set she reflected on this return and the her pride in being an all-Zambian band that has played Coachella, Glastonbury and now WOMADelaide!
Earlier in the day, North Africa’s Bab L’Bluz held a workshop on the Zoo Stage that provided some excellent insights into their songcraft, with their fascinating fusion of Moroccan music styles with modern blues and psychedelia. The session ended with some performance (including a nod to AC/DC like you’ve never heard before) that had the audience clapping along enthusiastically. They are back on stage today at 8pm (Stage 7) if you haven’t caught them yet.
At the other end of the day Mdou Moctar from Niger delivered one of the standout sets of the festival. A brilliant guitarist, Moctar is another fine proponent of the desert blues which has featured on many previous WOMAD iterations and is currently producing some of the best guitar music in the world. His playing shifts between shredding, blues and Toureg influences, all backed by the infectious rhythms of his backing band. It’s quite invigourating to behold – with one more chance to do so today at 3pm on the Foundation Stage.
Another highlight of the Sunday was Fantastic Negrito‘s return set – which was just as dynamic and possibly more high-powered and looser than his Saturday evening performance. It was clear that the blues artist (who only really began his professional music career aged 48) has won over a whole new legion of fans here on the back of these shows. He commanded the stage across the hour, directing call and response from the crowd and connecting with us with his chat between songs.
San Salvador from France produced something quite unique in the 5:30 main stage slot. Who needs a range of instruments when you have six stunning voices that blend together with such interesting harmonies. Backed only with simple percussion, their sound was startlingly immense and a joy to experience.
MUETE delivered the perfect coda for Sunday program with their brass-based techno that could be equally enjoyed dancing near the front of stage or chilling at the back. It was all quite hypnotic and strangely beautiful.
WOMADelaide continues today for it’s final chapter for 2023, with limited tickets available at the gate.
Written by Matthew Trainor
Photos by Tessa Manning