Adelaide Botanic Park, Sat 12 Mar.
WOMADelaide 2016 continues into its second day. I’m in the park, anticipating more wondrous sonic immersion. It starts on a high; I arrive at the Zoo Stage and see Tulegur, a fabulous Chinese melding of traditional and modern sounds. Gangzi plays acoustic guitar and sings – throat singing on occasion – while his partner Zongcan plays wild electric guitar and cajón. What a start to the day! Spacious, expansive, meandering music fills the air. I make a note to try and catch them again on Sunday.
Calexico are up next and they don’t disappoint. For a mid-afternoon show it’s an impressive crowd; the Stage 2 area is packed. The energetic seven-piece brings its own brand of Tex-Mex Americana to town and it goes down a treat. Powerfully brooding in parts, while at other times the band can barely hold on to the coat-tails of the music it is making. The trumpets slice through the air with surgical precision.
My next stop is the Foundation Stage, in time for some novel sounds from the Ukraine. DakhaBrakha, all big hats and harmonies, are another knockout. Billed as “a fascinating trans-national sound rooted in Ukrainian culture”, this quartet relies largely on voice, cello and percussion and creates an amazingly big sound. The singing, in particular the layers of harmony, is sublime.
Stage 3 hosts Ibeyi, who have been recommended, and they don’t disappoint. Resplendent is red suits, they offer another outstanding vocal performance, supported by keyboard and beats. Twins Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz, who grew up in Paris but are infused with Cuban influences, create sparse yet sumptuous soundscapes before an enthusiastic audience. Another Saturday highlight.
I pass the Foundation Stage and take in a few minutes of the passionate soul of Ester Rada – another act that I must try and catch on Sunday.
The TEK TEK ensemble, all the way from, erm, Melbourne, put on a colourful and vibrant show for the folks surrounding the Zoo Stage. There is, finally, more shade than sunlight and the people are thankful after enduring another hot day. Not too many are sitting, though. This gang of six are playing some big crazy gypsy music, and it is irresistible.
Back at Stage 2, 47SOUL bring their music and their message to Adelaide. Old-school synths, loops and voices are all that are needed to put on a potent show. The band’s sympathies for the Palestinian struggle are worn proudly on the member’s sleeves, and both the political and human impacts are made clear.
Evening comes, and it is time for Asha Bhosle on the Foundation Stage. It’s a sit-down show, and just about all of the available space is taken up with people hoping for a treat. This is Bhosle’s farewell tour, so it is a last chance to see this jewel of Indian music. She tells us she is 82, and that she might need to share the stage and vocal duties occasionally, but no-one seems to mind. Everyone present marvels at the sound of her beautiful voice. The music ranges from popular to classical, but it is all extremely enjoyable.
Brimful of Asha, I make my way to the Morton Bay stage and witness some of the instrumental work of Korean duo 숨[su:m]. They play ancient instruments while “adapting traditional music to modern life”. It is the most way-out thing I’ve heard since arriving, and provides a perfect end point to what has been an extremely satisfying day…
WOMADelaide continues at Adelaide Botanic Park from 11am until Mon 14 Mar.
Book at BASS or www.adelaidefestival.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Images courtesy of David Robinson.