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Previous: Saturday at WOMAD 2010 review Next: Drummers of Burundi open WOMAD 2010

Sunday at WOMAD 2010 - festival conclusion

Afro Celt Sound System capture the spirit of WOMAD for another year

WOMAD's final day came all too soon this year, we'd been treated to a fusion of music from all corners of the globe, impressive food demonstrations giving an insight into different and delicious culinary feasts that we can now all try for ourselves. We've enjoyed thought provoking talks, conversation and commentary, delightful art installations, witnessed the making of new stages and much more during the course of this weekend.

Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris

This had all been brought to Malmesbury's Charlton Park in Wiltshire - a superb venue in which to host a festival. The layout of the site is such that it was really easy to get around and make those discoveries that are such a huge part of a successful festival. The food available on the site was exceptional and the inclusion of the Jamie Oliver stall a delight, a little pricey as with all festivals these days but here you do get quality food for your money. The toilets are maintained really well, the cleanest we've found at any festival and alongside the overall cleanliness of the site the yuk factor found at so many other festivals is remarkably and notably absent at WOMAD. The music is set out so that the timings allow you to see the maximum number of performances.

it was really easy to get around the site and make those discoveries that are such a huge part of a successful festival.

The only minor niggle is the number of 'yummy mummies and daddies' with prams who seem to think that having a child in tow gives them carte blanche to barge their way through anywhere whilst pushing other festival goers out of their way. There's also a habit of laying children down to sleep in a dark field whilst tutting and shouting at other festival goers walking around the site. Mercifully free of people peeing wherever they choose there was, of course, a small contingent of 'yummy mummies' too lazy to walk to the adequate and well serviced toilets at night. Festivals are there for everybody and if you choose to take your children to these events then you have to accept that you are at a festival, it's held in a field and it's up to you to keep your children safe, you cannot expect people not to walk through crowds at a festival and you do not have priority over other festival goers.

Whilst it cannot be denied that WOMAD is rather a posh festival attracting a middle class audience it is also notably inclusive, we observed a delightful range of people from many different cultures as well as those with many different abilities enjoying the festival and all that it had to offer. What everyone had in common was a genuine love for World music and what they got from WOMAD was a cultural feast for the mind, body and spirit all compacted into one event where the watchword is quality combined with diversity.

Gil Scott-Heron
Gil Scott-Heron

Our Sunday began in the stiffling oppressive heat, the wasps that had been a bit of a nuisance were out in force, I managed to stand on something that penetrated my foot causing some quite impressive bleeding and so began the final day of festivities at WOMAD! There's been a really positive and relaxed festival vibe that's been in abundance all weekend and it's evident today as people get set to enjoy and make the most from the last full day at this unique event.

My run in with some sharper object on the ground got us off to a slower than normal start but we caught a bit of Khyam Allami & Andrea Picciono who were enticing them in at the BBC 3 Stage. Beautiful sounds filled the air as we sat for a while and just drank in the atmosphere that these artists generated. Iraq and Italy are represented here with a smattering of UK influences.

This is a positive, life affirming festival that has completely captured the essence of world music

I missed Sierra Leone's All Stars due to my run in with aforementioned sharp object and the need to get it sorted - this  was frustrating as they had been high on the list of 'must see' performers for today. Missing this performance from an amazing band from Sierra Leone was brought into sharp focus later in the day when I met the band backstage reinforcing a fact that I already knew - I'd really missed out on a top performance and a rare chance to experience a life-affirming set, my big 'miss' of the festival.

Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali
Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali

That being the case I inadvertently caught Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali again today as they had been placed on the main Outdoor Stage, they were generating an emotionally charged vibe once again. I have absolutely no idea how or why these guys do not have heart failure on stage such is the staunch emotional effort they put into their performance. The sound draws you in with it's hypnotic and mesmerizing chanting as the guys from Pakistan prove once again to be irresistible.

Drawing a massive crowd to the Siam Tent Mr Rolf Harris took to the stage for an afternoon slot which to be honest would have been better placed on the Open Air Stage such is the pull of this performer, it certainly felt and looked as though most of the WOMAD crowd had turned out to see this spritely octogenarian. Opening the set with 'Tie me Kangaroo Down Sport' the scene was set for a proper full on Rolfy performance and much bantering with the crowd followed including a call out for John Shepherd who has posed for a photo playing the dead Fred in the aforementioned song - but then again he'd told Rolf this event was near Suffolk!

Next up 'Jimmy My Boy' all about ancestry and environment telling how the spirits of old gather around the camp fire with the current generation. A good bit of didgeridoo sound accompanied this track.  'Iko Ikko' followed with a lot of very willing audience partication. 'Waltzing Matilda' provided yet another great singalong and we also got 'Sun Arise' which we were told got to number two in the charts all those years ago. 'Two Little boys' was included in a set that, for the love of 'Rolfy' really should have been on the Open Air Stage.

WOMAD demonstrates that art will not be suppressed, music will always find a way to survive and thrive.

Over on the Open Air Stage the fabulous West African Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou brought their blend of mighty fine funky music to WOMAD. This is a band who really have endured and survived despite the odds being stacked against them,  disbanded at the hieght of their success in the '70's due to the political situation in Benin coupled with the deaths of band members, their musical careers came to an abrupt halt some 40 years ago. Having been recently rediscovered they are back with a vengeance - proof if ever it were needed that art will not be suppressed, music will find a way to survive and thrive.

Kormac's Big Band from Ireland were billed as a 'live Hip Hop Orchestra' incorporating a barbers shop quartet; there was a bit of mixing but we wouldn't describe them as 'Hip Hop' despite that they produced a great sound that wowed them at the Big Red Tent, a funky set that finished all too soon due to their other commitments - this did not please the WOMAD crowd who felt a bit short changed by these guys.

Next up the traditional procession swept through the site, traditionally this gives a platform to the kids but an awful lot of it seemed rather adult - either that or there's some genius kids that all hang out at WOMAD! Nonetheless it was great fun to watch, a well loved part of the festival and another example of the inclusion that so typifies the event.

Imelda May
Imelda May

Imelda May swung out the Siam Tent with a suitably professional set that included a cover of Soft Cells 'Tainted Love'. This Rockabilly queen just can't put a foot wrong with her strong vocal ability, strutting on stage looking every inch the '50s throwback and wearing the most splendid killer heels, Imelda May swung straight into a powerful set that left no-one in any doubt as to why she's at the top of her game - yet another act that could have easily filled the Open Air Stage.

Columbia's La-33, billed as 'the most swinging salsa crew around', wasted no time in getting their party started as they slammed onto the Open Air Stage and immediately grabbed the attention with a rhythmic, horn-filled set that made us and everybody anywhere near dance. There was no way you couldn't move to the sounds that were filling the air from a band who were clearly delighted to be on that stage.

JazZstePpa were next on over in The Big Red Tent, fusing Jazz and Dubstep into an immense sound with their drums, mixers and trombones. The characteristic deep thumping Dubstep bass is like a siren to the young and they had filled the tent within minutes.

Afro Celt Sound System are a joy and to witness their performance is to be part of something emotional, joyous and life affirming

The set of the day, and probably the whole weekend belonged to Afro Celt Sound System. Badly placed on the Siam Stage these guys should have been on the Open Ar Stage, though knowing their love of dark moody lighting it may have been as much their decision as WOMAD's. In a weekend crammed with top world music and acts this was the one that, for us at least, captured the spirit and the essence of what WOMAD is all about. They've been away for far too long and haven't played WOMAD for the past 10 years so it was a welcome return for a band who are able to build their set from the gentle opening bars to a soaring, searing crescendo. Euphoric doesn't quite captured the vibe that flowed easily around the Siam Stage as track after track was laid bare for all to enjoy.  Afro Celt Sound System are a joy and to witness their performance is to be part of something emotional, joyous and life affirming leaving you breathless, there can be no doubt that the music these guys produce touches your very heart and soul.

Afro Celt Sound System
Afro Celt Sound System

Gil Scott-Heron closed the Open Air Stage in style, what can you say about a performer of this calibre? The surprise for us was the comedic opening to the show - we had no idea that this man, who has led quite an interesting life is also a bit of a stand up comic, regaling us with tales of having "disappeared". But it's the music that grabs you with this seasoned performer, the fusion of jazz, blues and soul music is brought together by a poet and wordsmith renowned as a political activist and the Godfather of rap, the man's life experiences shine through his performances, he has a lot to say and he isn't afraid to say it, thankfully there's a huge demand from those who want to listen.

"One of the things that happens when you 'disappear' is that you get sampled"
Gil Scott-Heron

Rango were chosen to close the Siam Tent, and as we'd missed an earlier performance it was an easy decision to choose this act as the festival wound down. Initially we thought we'd made a big mistake as part of the band walked on early whilst the announcer was still in full flow and frankly looked like your ancient Great Grandparents, appearing for all the world as if this would not be to our musical tastes at all. How wrong can you be? As they warmed up the spiritual trance-like atmosphere they created was interspersed with an amazing, exhuberent performance that became transfixing, hypnotic and unmissible. Rango, hailing from Egypt and Sudan, brought an amazing act to WOMAD, one that completely drew us in and left us wanting more.

Munto Valdo closed the Charlie Gillet Stage, we only caught a small part of this act but it evidenced, if evidence were needed at this festival, that the very best acts are cherry picked for WOMAD and all fly the flag for world music in their own unique and individual ways.


The night ended on the BBC Radio 3 Stage with a set from Kanda Bongo Man bringing a taste of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Charlton Park. His form of soukous gave birth to the kwassa kwassa dance rhythm, irrisistable and a perfect finish in this delightful tree laden and magical area of the festival.

Earlier in the evening the Roots Architecture area had finished the four imaginative stages they had been building all day and a number of performances took place as the stages were launched. The stages were great and atmospheric creating their own festival vibe, it was the inclusive nature of this area that made it special and the number of acts performing all weekend long, a very appealing part of WOMAD's diverse range of inclusive activities.

There was nothing to detract from the fact that WOMAD are quite obviously the UK's biggest and best advocates for world music. 2010 gave the UK yet another successful event catering for all tastes and showcasing a vast range of music from around the world. In addition there were a lot of other activities on offer including a huge range of workshops (we never saw the drumming area empty at any point), kids activities, art, interaction, debates and talks, food demonstrations and more besides. The clean and perfectly laid out site coupled with the vast range of quality food on offer is a real plus point as is the gentle laid back atmosphere the event generates.

This is a positive, life affirming festival that has completely captured the essence of world music picking out the best and bring it to the UK for all to enjoy, WOMAD are unreservedly the masters of this particular craft.

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WOMAD 2010 review
26th July 2010
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Sunday at WOMAD 2010 - festival conclusion

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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
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