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Previous: Drummers of Burundi open WOMAD 2010 Next: Sunday at WOMAD 2010 - festival conclusion

Saturday at WOMAD 2010 review

WOMAD continues to stun its audiences with performers from around the world, from Africa and South America to Inuit and Bristol

Arriving on site we discovered the Ethiopian Geata Krar Collective in full flow on the Radio 3 Stage. This vibrant and energetic act had attracted a huge crowd and within a minute we knew why. Colourful and soulful the strong sounds just grabbed you and didn't let go; Ethiopia has a real gem in the passionate Geata Krar Collective and the sound sweetly and seductively filled the Wiltshire countryside transporting us all to different climes for the duration of the set, impossible to stand still, impossible to feel down, mesmerizing.

Dobet Gnahore
Dobet Gnahore

Takht Al Emarat meanwhile brought an amazing acoustic sound to the Big Red Tent. A hypnotic acoustic troupe hailing from the United Arab Emirates, they have a truly haunting melodic, we only caught a part of their act and wishes we’d seen more but they were great ambassadors for their art as they showcased their talents with expertise drawing us all into their particular brand of music from the Gulf who draw their inspiration from the walking patterns of animals.

Gilzene & The Blue Light Mento Band who have made the trip from Jamaica to perform at WOMAD are a gentle, traditional old school sounding band. They were relaxing and delightful and with their banjo player well into his eighties proving music can keep you young.

The Sentimento Gypsy Paganini opened the main Open Air Stage and within moments of stepping onto the stage they got us all hooked into their beautiful Hungarian Gypsy music which provided yet another distinctive sound flooding out across the site. Astonishing virtuosos on the violin they played like they were born with the instruments already in their hands and the knowledge as to how to lay them to perfection. A rendition of "Edelweiss" was a surprise inclusion in the set which we have to say was quite a joyous experience and yet another opportunity to listen to music that may not have previously been on the list of 'must see/hear' - we're so glad we did.

Toubab All Stars, with their infectious blend of ska, reggae beats, dancehall and souks were moved to the Charlie Gillett Stage where their set got the crowd bouncing around in no time. They are known as the French version of The Specials, as their set grew and gained momentum they proved to be another act easily able to engage the crowd and attempted to teach the crowd some complicated French phrases so we they all join in! Perfect festival fun delivered in a get down to this and boogie manner - we all did of course, they left us no choice!

Salif Keita
Salif Keita

We took a bit of time to wander around what is a gorgeous site well laid out and thoughtful in its construction. We found the Human Library which was quite busy (obviously a successful inclusion this year) so we didn't have time to linger and take out a human book, plenty of folk obviously did though. Within the Well Being area where there's an impressive range of therapies on offer from Head Massage to Shiatsu, Reflexology and Fortune Telling, something to appeal to everyone can be found here.  On the way we happened upon a fascinating cookery demonstration at the 'Taste The World' area where some very tempting and delicious Caribbean food was being prepared by an equally captivating … who had no problem getting everybody interested and involved in the food and the stories that went along with it.

THE BBC Radio 3 stage was being brought to life once again by Pakistan's Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali, a totally emotional intense performance. soaring, searing and simply stunning. The handclapping backing singers mad quite a sound as these performers gave their heart and soul to the moment, the set was hypnotic and mesmerizing.

Dobet Gnahahore from the Cote D'Ivoire took to the stage of The Big Red Tent looking every inch the African Queen. This pan-African sound drew a great crowd who really got it and Dobet's amazing voice and stage presence proved to be another mesmerizing performance that was a delight to see and hear.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain had been high on my list of 'must see' events of the day but having got so easily side tracked and drawn in by the acts around the site I only managed to get to the last couple of songs. The crowd was clearly being, and had been, drawn into the world of the Ukulele's and the Main Outdoor Stage was awash with fans. Their version of 'Pinball Wizard' was quite something and they finished with a George Fornby number telling the crowd that 'this one had been specifically requested, they had said that they never do requests when asked for this number - so here it is', an act I wish I'd seen more of.

Over at the Siam Tent, having been moved from the main Open Air Stage, were Germany's LaBrassBanda. I was tempted with a bit of 'Oompah pah', I have no idea why as this is not my music at all, I was simply trying to cover as much new and different music as possible. I have never before been so glad to catch an act that I had so few expectation of, these guys were simply amazing and from the opening number it was clear that they were set to be the big surprise hit of the day. They brought a frantic, frenetic and totally unexpected funky afternoon set to WOMAD. Rock, Hip Hop, Ska, Pop, just about everything was covered during this set including the Cure's 'Why Can't I be you' Salt & Peppa's 'Push It' and 'I like to move it,move it', Lemar's 'Never Ending Story' and many, many more. At one point they disappeared into the crowd much to the delight of the heaving audience. What can we say about LaBrassBanda? One of the best acts we've seen in a very long time and one that we'd like to see a lot more of, festival bookers take note, these will go down a storm at any festival, get them for next year please.


Back at The Big Red Tent Ty was offering up a bit of rap for WOMAD. Instantly involving the crowd with a lot of banter and threatening to bring on 50 cent if they didn't behave he had them all on side from the off. Not one to be easily categorised or pigeonholed Ty does his own thing and certainly gave the crowd quite a storming set, his co-singer was none other than Vula Malinga of Dizzee Rascal and Bassment Jax fame and things were more than a little fun as a lively and energetic set provided some late afternoon entertainment.

BBC 3 brought on Finnish folksters Lepisto & Lehti who performed to a small but enthusiastic audience who were more than happy chilling out and taking a bit of time out on this cloudy yet humid afternoon.

Back over at the Siam Tent Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara were completing on a vibrant and totally engaging set ahead of their award from Songlines for the best Cross-Cultural performers, presented to them by Peter Gabriel. Obviously delighted with this well deserved award it showed in the quality of the set they performed for the WOMAD crowd today.

Peter Gabriel present the award to Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara
Peter Gabriel present the award to Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara

Bristol's Phantom Limb drew the crowd to the Charlie Gillett Stage and I managed to catch the last couple of songs as they were belted out with passion.

The Jamie Oliver stall is providing some real quality food at the festival among a host of good quality food stalls dotted about the site, there's even a few places where you can buy your tea and coffee in a mug - proper stuff indeed, I think I must be dreaming - but I told you it is a posh festival! Gentle times are the watchword of the day for the WOMAD crowd who seem totally content to wander around the site taking in the vast array of music, workshops, stalls, food and other enticing delights spread around the site. The Roots Architecture area that is busily constructing four new stages and also has an open stage which has been attracting a non-stop flow of folk who are being given their opportunity to perform to the WOMAD crowd, someone will be picked out on Sunday to play on one of the four new stages. I personally liked Barny and his 'Pea' song!

An hour or so was spent exploring the Well Being, Spa (yes, you can have the full Spa experience at WOMAD!) and Moving Pictures areas; the Moving Pictures are located in sea containers with video screens displaying some enthralling work. Jananne Al-Ani's work is particularly poignant and thought-provoking describing as it does so effectively the repression of the conflict by Western Press.

Dryden Goodwin's exhibit Reveal and Flight are both multiple faceted representations, one capturing the interaction between artist and sitter and the other following a fugitive fleeing - complex and compelling stuff indeed. An interesting concept and an inspired addition to the festival, I really liked the way you could get away from the main hub of the festival and take time out to indulge the senses here.


Orchestra National De Barbes continued the party that's been going on all day on the Open Air stage, their rocking, funky fun sound made it impossible to sit or stand still for a minute.

Imogen Heap proved to be a perfect choice for WOMAD; her avante guard nature and performing style was set off to perfection on the Siam Tent. Vocally she has it in buckets, her soaring exotic voice is able to carry off just about any experimental sound she produces - and she produces a lot. Not many are able to make such music accessible but therein lies one of Imogene Heap's many strengths, she has a knack for getting it just right and is able to engage with her audience, obviously much more to come from this talented performer.

Don Letts proved to be a big hit at The Big Red Tent, this legendary DJ and master of many other genres has no problem in knowing just what's needed and wanted and his set was, naturally, perfect - what more can you say?

Cerys Matthews
Cerys Matthews

Salif Kaita is one of Africa's top artists and it shows, the crowd knew that they were in for a musical treat with this highly anticipated headline act and as soon as he hit the stage the performance grabbed the huge crowd that had gathered. I was instantly transported back to my many travels in Africa and it immediately produced such a longing to return to West Africa, if you've ever been you'll know that the country grabs a bit of your heart. The audience for this special performance were clearly in seventh heaven as Salif Kaita proceeded to show us all that African music is alive and well and grooving the hell out of WOMAD tonight.

Peruvian band Novalima were next up on the Siam Tent and brought their South American sounds with them, even playing on a cow's jawbone, but this was not your pan pipes and ponchos, it was modern and funky music with synths and samplers.

Our other big surprise act of the day came in the form of Tanya Tagaq from Canada who I happened upon. She is described as an Inuit Throat Singer, we were drawn to the Charlie Gillett simply because we couldn't believe our eyes or our ears! Imagine Bjork on acid, uncontainable, exotic, shattering, a bit scary and quite silly although it has to be said utterly unique. If throat singing were thrash metal I guess she'd be right up there.

Tanya Tagaq
Tanya Tagaq

The final act on the Radio 3 stage was hugely over subscribed, and not surprisingly as it was the ever popular Welsh performer Cerys Matthews. Many people would have struggled to even catch a glimpse of her, but her distinctive voice carried through the trees. Although we all would have preferred more of the hits from Catatonia, she did throw in a couple for us between her more folk based tracks, most notably "Mulder and Skully".

Saturday continued in the same vein we had come to know on the Friday, gentle, peaceful and relaxed. A truly integrated and inclusive festival crowd here purely for what WOMAD produces - a delightful festival crammed from corner to corner just waiting for you to discover something new - and something new, as we have discovered is what it's all about.

Many talented performers have brought their unique skills to WOMAD once again this year, many bring such a sense of poignancy to their performance and this makes it special because you know that it's special to the performers themselves. You know that many do not have the same opportunities that we enjoy in the UK, and you also know that there are many more talented artists out there waiting for their chance so it makes it all the more precious that the WOMAD organizers bring such an eclectic range of talent to the UK each year. The opportunity to see that the human spirit can never be totally repressed and buried despite whatever and whenever the many different circumstances may be is heart warming in a way that brings so much hope and joy.

Your Ratings & Comments
Based on 1 rating
Krar Collective
Written by Baz | 28th Jul 2010
If you want to check Krar Collective see / krarcollective
thanks for the great review!
Written by Baz | 26th Jul 2010
must have taken quite a lot of running...

Review Info

Review of:
WOMAD 2010 review
25th July 2010
Saturday at WOMAD 2010 review

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Review Pages Index
Part 1. Drummers of Burundi open WOMAD 2010
Lord Suffolk announces that WOMAD is now secure at Charlton Park for the next five years
Part 2. Saturday at WOMAD 2010 review
WOMAD continues to stun its audiences with performers from around the world, from Africa and South America to Inuit and Bristol
Part 3. Sunday at WOMAD 2010 - festival conclusion
Afro Celt Sound System capture the spirit of WOMAD for another year
Buy tickets for WOMAD
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