By Deb Kloeden, Adelaide correspondent
REVIEW: WOMADelaide 2016, 11th March – 14th March, Adelaide.
• Take a very generous portion of World music and dance, and place it in Adelaide’s beautiful Botanic Park.
• Add a gastronomy of international food stalls, thought provoking discussions on environmental issues and sustainable living, entertaining pop-up performers, free entertainment for children; music, dance and food workshops, yoga sessions and the most effective event recycling and rubbish collection.
• Mix it all together with perfect sunny weather and mild, moonlit evenings, and you have WOMADelaide!
The 34-hectare Botanic Park is filled with huge, leafy Moreton Bay Fig Trees creating a green oasis and making it the ideal garden setting for a festival. Each year, the WOMADelaide crew transform this park into a magical world that delights all the senses. It really is like stepping into another dimension as you walk through the gates. Even the colourful attire of the patrons adds to the atmosphere. Seven stages are erected. Two big main stages and five smaller, more intimate stages are set strategically throughout the park. Food and merchandise stalls of all kinds offer everything you could want. Many of the staff and crew are volunteers, who happily give some time for free entry.
This year marked the 25th festival, and they couldn’t have got it more right. The line-up of international stars included Angelique Kidjo with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, The Violent Femmes, Calexico, St Germain, De La Soul, Cedric Burnside Project, Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro, Songhoy Blues, Sean Kuti & Egypt 80, Orange Blossom, Asian Dub Foundation, Hazmat Modine and live conversation with David Suzuki.
Obviously, some of these artists have popular acclaim, but it is often the lesser-known acts that surprise and delight me as I race from stage to stage. However, The Violent Femmes gave us a ‘blistering’ act of old favourites (opening with Blister in the Sun) and new music, delighting both young and old. Angelique Kidjo was majestic, captivating a packed-out, seated audience with her Adelaide Symphony Orchestra collaboration. The 2-piece Cedric Burnside Project was a real highlight for me. Drummer, Cedric Burnside, grandson of the legendary R.L. Burnside, teamed with guitarist Trenton Ayers to deliver a huge sound of Blues, Hip-hop and Funk. St Germain treated us to some instrument rarities, including a double-necked Gnoni, delivering New World nu-jazz with a big Malian influence.
But, as always, the Australian bands provided the most familiar music for me. The Cat Empire capped off the opening night with their huge Latin/Reggae/Ska sound and incredible visual display of lights and projections. This band just gets better every time I see them. Standing in the hot afternoon sun did not deter a huge audience from waiting for Sarah Blasko. Her poignant lyrics and ravishing melodies did not disappoint. Local Adelaide group, Wasted Wanders, gave us some soulful blues and proved why they earned a spot on this prodigious program. Sydney’s Rasta band, The Strides were previously unknown to me. Their 3 front men are an interesting, energetic mix of a Barbados Reggae Master, a Fijian MC and a Ragga/Hip-Hop power-house. Their music is a great fusion of Reggae and Hip-Hop combined with lyrics from the street. I enjoyed them so much that I lined up twice to see them and raced off to buy their CD straight after the 2nd performance.
Huge congratulations must go to all the organizers and sponsors of this amazing 4-day Festival. Each year I see significant improvements showing that they really do take note of feedback. Thanks WOMADelaide. I’ll keep coming back.
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