Tuesday, August 28, 2007

WOMAD 2007 (This post is for J in Kyoto)

Thanks to J for giving us this ST boingy outy picnic thingy - it's lasted through many a hairy WOMAD moment.

WOMAD this year: awesome awesome awesome.

7:00pm: Opened with an Iranian father and son team called Ensemble Shanbehzadeh. Father played the Iranian version of a bagpipe, son (only 13) played the drums. Nice mellow start.

Mahotella Queens from South Africa show us what active ageing really means.

7:30pm: The Mahotella Queens, three divas - 62, 65 and 67 yrs old - who've been singing together for 40 years. They yell to the crowd about the power of WOMAN, saying that all the men who were in the original group had all died. Err, ok. Crowd went crazy with their exuberant dancing and tight a cappella harmonies. Felt like I was at Paul Simon's Graceland concert.

8:15pm: Sheila Chandra ("one night only" touted the programme) is unable to perform due to her bad throat. The crowd gasps in dismay. Many have obviously come just to see her. But most take her non-appearance rather well, and we're suitably entertained by Cameroonian acoustic guitarist Muntu Valdo. Back to mellow vibes again. D and I wander off and get the most kickass triple brownie chocolate explosion thingy.

Nomadic music from Niger. The acoustic guitarist wears this purple robe that looks like it's made of PVC. How in the world he plays in the heat I don't know.

9:00pm: We start off listening to samba sounds of Sao Paulo band Clube de Balanco. OK only lah - crowd go mad, but for some reason, I find their sound vaguely muzak. D and I wander to catch something more unusual, nomadic band from Niger called Etran Finatawa. Hardly anyone is here, everyone else is dancing salsa to Brazilian beats at the stage below. So nomad musicans and the handful of weirdos like us gather round and it feels like we're back in the desert of Wadi Rum listening to quiet sounds in the dry air. Very transporting this stuff.

Shooglenifty! Sorry J - too busy dancing to take proper photos.

10:00pm: But then10pm comes round and it's Shooglenifty - incredible Scottish band that J introduced us to. Last seen in WOMAD Taranaki NZ 2004. We danced and danced. Everyone was smiling. Shooglenifty plays happy music.

11:00pm: Can't believe the Shooglenifty set is over. We want more! But head down for Asian Dub Foundation. I stupidly bought ADF's best-of CD before watching them live, on the strength of reviews alone. Never again. They're supposed to political, daring, best gig to catch in London etc etc. But found their lyrics a bit wanting. E.g. "We want your oil!" supposed to be provocative song about err, US invasion of Iraq? Sigh. Obviously subtlety not order of the day. We wandered off after midnight. To the sounds of the musicians screaming "we love you SINGAPAAAAW!"

Sigh, just love WOMAD.

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