(Review & photos by John Glennie)
A great finale for WOMAD! It was perfect weather for the occasion – not too hot and not too cold – well, at least until the sun went down.
I saw some excellent performances starting with the Orang Orang Drum Theatre from Malaysia. Amazing choreography, timing and rhythm so you really cannot help but move with the beat. To continue with the beat theme I went to see Liniker e os Caramelows, a Brazilian group fronted by transgender Liniker who really knows how to get the crowd going then feeding off that energy. This was high energy with great African and Latin rhythms with excellent musicians.
I wanted to check out other performances so left just before the end to see the last song by Australia’s Echo Drama fronted by Thando. What I saw was really good and wish I could have squeezed in a bit more of them – but the Brazilian outfit had me hooked!
Next we saw Ezra Collective (UK) who are all excellent musicians playing really catchy stuff combining Afro – Latin beats, hip-hop and much more. Very enjoyable and entertaining group.
The next act was even better and a bit of a surprise. Minyo Crusaders (Japan) said that this ancient form of folk singing “is dead, and we want to revive it”. This was their first time in Australia and I really hope they come back as I would happily go and see them any time! The beats and rhythms were fantastic as were their traditional costumes and, even though we didn’t know what they were singing about, the lyrics sounded good (if that makes sense!). They did give the audience some tuition on the chorus of one traditional song. One of my favourite performances for the day!
On a high after this, I wasn’t expecting much better. How wrong I was! The crowning performance of the entire day/evening was the unstoppable 80-year old Mavis Staples (US) whose career started way back in 1950 at 11 years old. She sang gospel, blues, soul and more. The band was brilliant, and Mavis is full of energy and knows how to work a crowd. Part way through some giant puppets walked (danced) through the crowd which led Mavis to say “hey, those guys are way too tall – must be Snoop Dogg, 2-Pac, Kanye West, and who’s she? Mavis?” to cheers from us all.
She entertained us with some classics including Get Ready, We’ll Get By and Respect Yourself. She finished up with an extended Time For Change where she sang and spoke of things she is tired of: adults sleeping in the streets, our children being taken away from their Mamas and locked up in cages, too many guns, etc. The audience went crazy when she said “I want to go to that bug White House, a drag that little boy out of there by his red hat, and smack him – in fact I am considering running for President myself!” – she would be a whole lot better than the present incumbent!!!! As mentioned, this was definitely the headline act for me and, listening to numerous comments, many others too.
Next we went to see Laura Marling do a solo show but left fairly quickly as couldn’t really hear it too well – possibly with the stage set up more for a band? We wandered over to see KermesZ a l’Est (Belgium) who are a diverse bunch of talented musicians playing a combination of funk, fusion, metal, reggae and more. There was a vast array of instruments: bass drum, snares, sax, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, trombone, tuba, guitars, keyboard. However it was all instrumental whi, after a while, loses its appeal.
This was followed on the main stage by Venezuelan group Los Amigos Invisibles who were really good. Again, those Latin beats are enough to get anyone moving, dancing and swaying. Great energy and excellent music.
We left this show a bit early to get a change of scene with a visual show called As The World Tipped. It was an amazing and spectacular look at climate change and urging everyone to make a noise and demand change before it is too late. An enormous amount of work has gone into this very moving production!
So, then it was back to the music and the final act for WOMADelaide 2020 – Matt Corby from NSW. He was a very late inclusion after the sudden withdrawal of Ziggy Marley as the headline act. Matt is a great performer and he acknowledged he is “no Ziggy Marley”. However he did a great job and entertained the crowd with a much more laid back sound.
Yet another WOMADelaide came to an end with another exceptional Monday – and the crowd seemed bigger than last year which was great to see and be part of.