[WORLD MUSIC/Contemporary/Dance ~ AUS/INT]
Botanic Park/Tainmuntilla, Mon 14 Mar.
My day started with a wander through the stalls and then Cocoloco’s street theatre as they wandered through the crowd waiting at Stage 2 for Elephant Sessions. Their bent and amusing routine quickly had a group of spectators interacting and laughing.
Even in the heat of the afternoon Elephant Sessions had a huge crowd up dancing with their jigs and infectious rhythms. They had put a spring in our step as we were leaving the previous evening, so we were determined to catch the whole set this time. From the Scottish highlands (what did they make of the heat?) and returning to WOMADelaide after four years, many of the crowd seemed full of expectation waiting for the fun to start. Using mandolin, fiddle, drums, bass and synth loops these players had us swooning to plaintive refrains one moment and dancing to some funky mandolin sounds the next. This is a great way to start the final day of WOMADelaide 2022.
Next I wandered over to see Makepisi at the Zoo Stage who sang beautiful a Cappella versions of traditional South African songs, plus some originals written by various members of this five piece group. With amazing harmonies, resonance and a sense of fun, many of the lyrics were about love and marriage South African style. Another big appreciative crowd gathered to hear them and even join in the singing at one point.
For a complete change of pace my next port of call was to the Moreton Bay stage to see Ye-Ye 2.0, a group put together by So Frenchy, So Chic. Drawing from the 1960’s French pop Ye-Ye phenomenon two female singers took us through a feast of pop hits ranging from ballads to charming versions of Kinks and Rolling Stones hits – all sung in French of course, to give it a bit of Gaelic panache. This was not sultry or angsty music but charming, easy listening designed to have the crowd up dancing – and that’s what they did! Dancing is back!
We had already seen two of the day’s main offerings on the Foundation Stage, the Melbourne Ska Orchestra and YID, previously also on the Foundation Stage. No doubt necessitated by the size of the bands, but it would have been nice to see someone like Electric Fields (my personal pick for this year’s ‘WOMADelaide moment’) being given a chance to present their show on the big stage. Nevertheless we watched YID’s return on Monday night, and they were great again. This time they presented a slightly different set list, including a reverent homage to Paul Simon, which had the crowd in hushed attention. Elsewhere their more up tempo and infectious rhythms, at times almost chaotic sounding, had the crowd on their feet.
Adelaide’s own Empty Threats were on next at the Moreton Bay Stage, and wow were they electric! Great songs, great stage presence, some fabulous psychedelic guitar work, and a charismatic frontman who can play clarinet, has a great voice, and can slink and prance around the stage with abandon. A huge crowd for Moreton Bay stage were held in awe. Empty Threats are certainly a band to watch and support.
Paul Kelly completed Monday and brought WOMADelaide to a suitable close. He played for us many of the iconic songs as well as a new one not yet released, with Vika and Linda Bull adding their distinctive presence; this all made for a stunner of a show.
WOMADelaide was a little different this year, from necessity having a much larger Australian content in the line-up. Far from being a problem it was great to see such a variety of home grown talent. And South Australia in particular, with acts such as Electric Fields and The Empty Threats, should consider ourselves extremely lucky. Another fabulous WOMADelaide!