[EVENT ~ WORLD MUSIC ~ INT]
Botanic Park, Sun 8 Mar.
Once again, the intoxicating otherworldliness of WOMADelaide commandeers my consciousness as I pass through the Frome Road entry point. It’s a near perfect day, and I’m very happy to be there for the start of play. So, it appears, are a few thousand of my fellow music lovers.
After seeking hydration (it’s a long walk from Halifax Street) I make my way to the Foundation Stage to see KermesZ à l’Est. These seven (I think) musicians, clad in the black uniform of a chapter of metal punkers, are nothing of the sort; instrumental, percussive, Balkan, with slight elements of ska. As well as playing up a storm, their on-stage cavorting proves a winner with the decent-sized early afternoon crowd; sometimes cacophonous, always fun.
I venture down to Stage 3 to see and hear Kim So Ra. I was expecting this Korean virtuoso and her accompanying trio to present something quite solemn and devout – no idea why. I am completely wrong. It is a most uplifting and joyous performance. Kim is genuinely happy when talking to the audience, and perhaps even happier when playing her instrument, the Janggu (a double-headed drum). The show comprises solo, duo and four-piece works. The crowd learns, courtesy of Kim, some Korean terms of encouragement along the way.
A little later it’s back to the Foundation Stage for Orang Orang Drum Theatre, who are presenting The Memories, which explores the concept of ‘home’ as a migrant. Now, this is really lovely. A drum orchestra provides the foundation for some great songs from this Malaysian troupe. It’s very musical; there’s some very impressive layered singing. The sound is augmented by some attractive on-stage movement; this is a multi-sensory performance piece.
Stage 2 plays host to Bill Callahan. Staring into the sun on a hot afternoon can be a trial, but Callahan’s wistful Americana shows no signs of buckling. His four-piece ensemble creates a nice vibe. Longish, meandering, two chord sections of songs, inventive lead, solid rhythms, all underpin Callahan’s attractive lyrics and characteristic vocals. Someone from the audience throws him a hat, to help with the sun. He throws it back, saying thanks, but no thanks. “Hoping for more of a Peter Pan hat, or even Dr Seuss,” he quips.
Popular Venezuelan outfit Los Amigos Invisibles appear on the Foundation Stage, bringing flowery shirt happiness to the audience. Their disco-funk goes down a storm; it features plenty of familiar riffs and keeps folks guessing as to where the songs are going next…
London funksters Ezra Collective are on Stage 3. Their high-energy instrumentals are a winner with the big crowd. Their extolling of the virtues of the togetherness of the occasion goes down well. “Focus on the joyful things in life,” the audience are advised to much applause.
At the same time on Stage 2, Flor de Toloache provide a stimulating diversion, both musically and visually. Mariachi goodness in front of another big crowd. There are some mighty powerful vocals – almost at glass shattering level…
Super Rats appear on the Zoo Stage. Their quirky, lurching, Romanian songs quickly have everyone buying in to the show. The four-piece plays music largely based around the cimbalom and dulcimer, augmented with double bass, accordion and violin. At one stage there’s something resembling a conga line of punters in front of the stage. Good fun indeed.
Once again, this section of WOMADelaide has succeeded in bringing a multitude of musical styles and themes to the hungry senses of world music fans from Adelaide and, I suspect, many other places both near and far.
WOMADelaide continues at Botanic Park from 11am until Mon 9 Mar.
Book at womadelaide.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
All images courtesy of David Robinson