WOMADelaide @ Botanic Park, Adelaide 13/3/2023

WOMADelaide Day 4 and the final hurrah for 2023. What a weekend of cultural music and to finish the festival we have another cracker day of world music wonders. Starting the day roaming to find a shady tree to set up base camp because if you haven’t been to WOMAD before like me, it’s a must. With so many stages to roam you need to set your plan on what time they’re playing and which stage they’re playing on so you don’t miss all your favs. I tried to do that but with so many things to see, do and watch it was a challenge. A fun and exciting challenge none the less!

After the Welcome to Country, it was Latin Grammy Award winners Quinteto Astor Piazzolla starting the day with some cool tango vibes on the Foundation Stage before we strolled down to Stage 3 to see Māori artist Ria Hall. Speaking in her native language she explained how wonderful it was to ‘meet and exchange, embrace and encompass these land’s together.” Bringing her roots and reggae style music with lyrics about historical lands stating how for every cause there’s an effect. She finished her set to a thunderous applause and declaring “Music brings us together.” It certainly does!

Down on Stage 3 we caught a glimpse of Kefaya and Elaha Soroor with their eclectic blend of folk songs. Pulling a large crowd, these artists captivated us with a mesmerising performance. It was a short stop as we made our way to Stage 7 to see Bandaluzia with their flamenco dance and music. There were spectacular dances moves with fierce guitar strumming and vigorous box drumming.

While strolling from stage to stage it was like wondering through a community village. With an abundance of market stalls, pavilions with speakers and child friendly activity areas, it’s so much more than just music. It’s a world of all things earthly and with such a spirit of life. It’s also an exciting opportunity to people watch. Spotted was politician Penny Wong, former SA Premier Mike Rann, artist Ria Hall and many other artists wondering around after finishing their sets.

After reading Richard De Pizzol’s Day 3 review I just had to check out Mdou Moctar on the Foundation Stage. With a mainly instrumental music base, the ferocious guitar sounds of each song had a sense of urgency that had everyone in a frenzy. Very cool!

Back to Stage 3 for a brief glimpse of the Romany supergroup Taraf de Haïdouks who performed their exciting brand of traditional lăutari folk music. Then checking out the ethereal voice of Angel Olsen on Stage 2 with her dulcet tones reminding us a bit of a country version of Billie Eilish before managing to get some time seeing The Lachy Doley Group. Hailing from Adelaide they played to a packed crowd on the Moreton Bay Stage wowing audiences on the organ and clavinet.

The show stopper for me was Cuban funkster Cimafunk. What can only be described as the musical love child of James Brown and Prince, he had the Foundation Stage crowd funking for the whole set. The energy on this Latino sensation was insane. It was a non-stop dance mania. I mean, if anyone can sing a Prince song and make it his own, that’s pure genius. Despite singing in his native Cuban tongue any Prince fan would recognise a Prince song and Cimafunk’s version of Musicology was a Latin explosion! When during one song he asked “Do you feel it?” the answer was “Hell yeah!” Finishing off with asking people from the crowd on to the stage to dance away to the last song, it was a performance to remember.

Before wondering all the food stalls to grab a bite we stumbled on Nakhane playing his blend of electronic and kwaito (Soweto house music) on the Moreton Bug Stage. He is now on my streaming playlist!

While we are talking about food, it was great to see Kobza Café, set up by Adelaide’s Ukrainian community and managed by Bob Becker. This hub of Ukrainian culture were selling Ukrainian trinkets to raise money for the people of Ukraine as well as food cooked up by Chef Andrew of Fishbank and formally of Jolley’s Boathouse.

The band that we were the most excited to see, mainly to relive our days of youth, was Soul II Soul. For this one we managed to make our way to the front, second row ain’t too bad! Founder Jazzie B welcomed us to the world of Soul II Soul and taking us back to 1988 and beyond with Keep On Movin’, Back To Life, Get A Life, A Dreams A Dream, Soul II Soul (I Care), Universal Love, and Love Enuff. There must have been something in the air on day 4 because Prince was a common theme amongst artists as we heard a Soul II Soul version of Nothing Compares To You. This Prince fan was pretty happy! Soul II Soul gave us the sounds of Camperdown, London and the whole band seem excited to be at WOMADelaide. Staying a bit longer after the set to record the crowd still wooing and whistling their satisfaction of seeing a much-loved band.

After seeing the whole set of Soul II Soul it was a quick sprint to Stage 2 to see Australia’s new music superhero, Genesis Owusu. What can I say about this man? Every ounce of energy was just mind-blowingly blasting from his pores. There was no room left on the oval and the crowd lapped up every bit of him. It was insatiable as we couldn’t keep our eyes off him. Every word was powerful, every move was mesmerising and the stage lighting added that extra element of wow! Shaking his body, dancing around the stage, owning every ounce like a king. Did I know any of the songs? No, but it didn’t matter. If an artist can command your attention and hold you to his presence despite knowing his songs, you know he’s a superstar.

The main artist for the night on the Foundation Stage was Youssou N’Dour & Le Super Étoile de Dakar back for his fourth appearance at Womadelaide. Bringing back his brand of Senegalese jazz, soul, funk and pop elements the crowd were there to witness another highlighted performance from the much adored musician. Yes, he played the most famous song 7 Seconds, it would be a miss if he didn’t but the highlight was the traditional songs of African beats and the accompanied dancing that really wowed the crowd.

Lastly and what the crowd most patiently waited for was Gratte Ciel the feathered angel spectacular from France. Not seen since 2018 in Adelaide it was a white cloud sensation with acrobatic theatrics accompanied by harmonious music making it blanket feathered wonderland. A wonderful high to end what was the closing of WOMADelaide 2023.

WOMAD Review By Anastasia Lambis

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