[WORLD MUSIC/Contemporary/Dance ~ AUS/INT]
Botanic Park/Tainmuntilla, Mon 14 Mar.
Melbourne Ska Orchestra might just be the best band in the country right now. Ska, reggae, rock steady, soul, calypso, dancing horn section and infectious energy. The 25+-piece orchestra lead by their effervescent front man Nicky Bomba, are a bloomin’ joy to behold. The New Monos over on stage seven are an intoxicating mix of tango, folk, reggae and hip hop.
I whiz round to Stage 4 to catch Asteroid Ekosystem a new Australian supergroup of sorts. Pianist Allister Spence, Lloyd Swanton (bass), drummer Toby Hall and the legendary Ed Kuepper on guitar, provide an ethereal soundscape with jazz roots and remarkable musicianship, On the Zoo Stage Karen Lee Andrews and her tight as a ducks butt blues band are astounding, fantastic guitar player, smouldering voice. Barkaa from WA is a deadly rapper dropping tracks tackling social injustice, toxic relationships, First Nation issues. L-FRESH The Lion is perfect on any WOMADelaide line-up, bringing Punjabi and Sikh roots to hip hop beats and powerful lyrics.
One of the many other things that this festival gets so right is having other distractions happening around the site. The Kidzone is great, the roaming entertainers, puppeteers, etc are often surprising and delightful. Tonight, I witness a powerful performance Kardia Paltendi (Dancing Fire) before heading over to see Dancenorth, a dazzling dance troupe backed by 100 local drummers. Just amazing stuff.
Paul Kelly is our Poet Laureate. He is our Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg… our Woody Guthrie; a quintessential Australian voice, telling our stories, with honesty, bravery and skill. His band is always exemplary and today he tells us “I brought the whole gang” as he introduces Vika & Linda Bull, Peter Luscombe (The Black Sorrows, RockWiz Orchestra) on the drums and always a thrill to see Ash Naylor (Even, The Church) strap on a guitar.
Tonight is a masterclass in song writing excellence and engaging performance. With a setlist of new songs and old favourites, early highlights It’s a nice doff of the cap to his association with WOMADelaide too as he performed at the first one three decades ago. Early highlights included Before Too Long, To Her Door, When I First Met Your Ma and the pinnacle for me a solo acoustic From St Kilda to Kings Cross. He’s a national treasure, as is truth be told WOMADelaide itself.
Lovely to be back with you once again.