Everyone I know who experiences WOMADelaide festival, wants to experience it again. Everyone I know who’s heard about the WOMADelaide experience, wants to have it.
That’s because it’s one of the world’s best musical festivals, and Australia’s very best. Fundamentally for the quality of music and its friendly festival people, but for so many other reasons too.
So declares I anyway – and anyone I’ve ever spoken with about it who’s in the know.
I’ve just experienced WOMADelaide 2014 with about 90,000 other people. Over four days I was reminded over and over again (as they probably were too), of all the reasons we were counting down the days to WOMADelaide 2014 since the end of WOMADelaide 2013.
The People Will Come
Artists love playing at WOMADelaide. They are treated well, and valued, as artists should be valued. They get to play their music (and sell CDs on-site) to friendly, musically-open-minded and appreciative crowds of people who might otherwise never be exposed to it.
The friendly people of Adelaide love to go to their home festival – set up base-camp under an old, shady Botanic Park tree – and enjoy the festival with family and friends. Some of them have been to every WOMADelaide since 1992.
Parents love to go because they can relax and enjoy the festival knowing their kids are happy and safe somewhere nearby on-site.
Lovers of diverse music who live in other parts of Australia, love to make the music pilgrimage to WOMADelaide whenever possible.
Sounds of the Planet
“It doesn’t matter which artists are in the line-up. Turn up to the festival any ole year and you’ll hear amazing artists from all over the world.”
My musician friend who “hates most music”, said that to me about WOMADelaide many years ago. At every WOMADelaide I’ve been to since, his words about the festival’s line-up have rung absolutely true.
WOMADelaide 2014 saw about 500 very diverse artists, representing 20+ countries, performing across 7 festival stages.
All of those artists were good, most were fantastic and many were phenomenal.
WOMAdelaide programmed both of them at this year’s festival – and their shows were amongst the best I saw.
A live Hiatus Kaiyote experience amongst the trees at Botanic Park…it was all a bit magical really.
The spunky Nai Palm on guitar and vocals, smiling all through the set – plus her incredibly talented band members – put a huge and long-lasting smile on my face too.
Hiatus Kaiyote’s music, along with Cuba’s Roberto Fonseca’s music, was the most inspiring and happiness-inducing music of all the music I heard at WOMADelaide 2014.
Videos of Hiatus Kaiyote’s one and only WOMADelaide show here…
Hiatus Kaiyote is supporting Queen Erykah Badu at her Australian shows in a few weeks. Lucky me, I’ll be there in Melbourne at what I predict could be the most special live show of 2014 for me .
At her WOMADelaide 2014 show Papua New Guinean born, Australian based NGAIIRE, was exactly like NGAIIRE always seems to be – absolutely mesmerizing to hear and see.
She was accompanied greatly by her skilful band, with a slightly different line-up to usual.
Check out this video of a new Ngaiire track played live for the 1st time at her WOMADelaide shows…
Sounds of the Rest of the Planet
Aotearoa (New Zealand) - Fat Freddys Drop
Well, I left Fat Freddys Drop’s WOMADelaide show before it finished. And not because I had anywhere else to be. I just wasn’t feeling moved or inspired where I was.
Video of their festival show here. Maybe you’ll be inspired…
China - Hanggai
Hanggai’s music was probably the most foreign and novel to me at WOMADelaide 2014: rock mixed with traditional Mongolian music. The live experience of this band was a totally unique and entertaining one.
Check out Hanggai’s WOMADelaide show on video here…
Colombia/Belgium - La Chiva Gantiva
It’s always a treat for me to hear the sounds of traditional Colombian music like cumbia and chirimia in the mix with the likes of funk and afro-beat. Also to get a dose of the distinctively joyous Colombian energy put out by los Colombianos in La Chiva Gantiva – as well as that of their Flemish, Belgian and Vietnamese band members.
La Chiva Gantiva wins the WOMADelaide 2014 prize for crowd participation.
Videos (of their more subdued tracks) from both La Chiva Gantiva’s WOMADelaide shows here…
Cuba - Roberto Fonseca
Roberto Fonseca and his phenomenal accompanying band – which included Malian kora and tama player Cherif Soumano – were the musical jewel of the WOMADelaide crown for me.
Once upon a time, Roberto Fonseca was a young piano player with Ibrahim Ferrer’s Orchestra. Now and for many years past, he’s been an established artist in his own right. In these days Robert Fonseca’s still young -and is creating stunning Latin Jazz music that explores sounds of traditional African roots music and electronica.
Both the music and the musicianship of this group were an absolute joy to experience live.
Roberto Fonseca’s album Yo was one I made sure I bought home with me from WOMADelaide.
Glimpses of the magic of Roberto Fonseca’s WOMADelaide shows here on video…
France - Dub Inc
A french fusion of ever-so-danceable sounds of dub, reggae, dancehall, ska, ragga, hip-hop, Arab and African music.
The really unique thing about this band is the voices and vocal combinations of Hakim “Bouchkour” Meridja and Aurélien “Komlan” Zohou.
See what I’m talking about here on these videos from Dub Inc’s WOMADelaide 2014 shows…
Nigeria - Femi Kuti & The Positive Force
Femi Kuti needs no description. Nor does his music.
Hearing Femi Kuti play saxophone took me somewhere heavenly.
His supporting band and dancers The Positive Force, were as incredible to hear and watch as you’d expect them to be.
Videos of Femi Kuti’s one and only WOMADelaide show here. Check out the chops of the Positive Force band towards the end of the first one…
Spain/Guinea - Buika
Contemporary sounds rooted strongly in traditional flamenco – sung and played exquisitely.
Buika was absolutely divine.
The guitarist accompanying Buika is amongst that group of phenomenal artists I heard at the festival.
Videos from one of Buika’s two WOMADelaide shows here…
Sample tracks (mp3 only) off Buika’s album En Mi Piel here too…
Mi Niña Lola – Buika – En Mi Piel
Somos (Featuring Chucho Valdes) – Buika – En Mi Piel
USA - Arrested Development
You all know who Arrested Development are and what they do. Hip-hop of the inspiring kind.
Well, the line-up of the group might have changed. But I think they’re still doing what they’ve always done, in style. With new music and a new album coming.
The live Arrested Development experience is one to have. Check out a video here…
USA - Red Baraat
Red Baraat blends North Indian Bhangra rhythms with the delicious sounds of jazz, brass-funk and hip-hop.
This awesome New York-based group was musically one of my favourites at WOMADelaide 2014.
Their 5-piece-strong brass section was an extra special delight for my musical senses.
Videos from each of Red Baraat’s WOMADelaide 2014 shows here…
Red Baraat’s 2nd album Shruggy Ji is also in my bag of music goodies that I bought home from the festival.
Zimbabwe – Mokoomba
Mokoomba fuses traditional sounds from African music with more modern ones, some of them even disco-like.
Have a listen to the vocals of this group here on video. They’re sung in traditional Tonga language (unknown to most, even in Africa).
Other corners of the world represented live at WOMADelaide 2014 were Algeria, Bulgaria, India, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Reunion Island, Tunisia and Scotland.
Towards the end of your WOMADelaide nights, when you’re feeling happy and revitalized from all the amazing live music you’ve just experienced and want to keep dancing, you can.
Just head to the Speakers Corner stage and find yourself a spot amongst the trees. There you can have your last dance of the festival day to DJs spinning tasty tunes.
WOMAdelaide 2014 had some of the world’s best DJs on offer…
1. DJ Yoda (UK)
2. DJ Muro (Japan)
3. Awesome Tapes From Africa (USA) – DJ Brian Shimkovitz with his samples from 4000+ rare and random cassette tape recordings collected from Africa for more than a decade. You can check it out on his blog.
Will Holland makes some of my favourite music in the world.
In his WOMADelaide set he delivered a mix of old and new Quantic concoctions from his large collection of musical productions of the funk, soul and Latin flavoured kinds. So for me it was possibly the best DJ set I’ve ever experienced.
Check out a video snippet of a new concoction here…
More Than Music
Incredible music, a friendly community of people and a green, open-air festival space. WOMADelaide has those fundamental festival ingredients.
It’s got lots more too – all a part of making it the positive festival experience it is.
Amongst the music and dancing there are activities of all sorts to be found around the festival site…
- Find your favourite festival artists cooking up their traditional home dishes at Taste The World - giving a talk – or a music or dance workshop.
- Listen to environmental talks and panel discussions at The Planet Talks.
- Interact with a roving theatre performer.
- Join in or watch the Parade.
- Lay on the grass in the Pines and watch a visual installation of the best dancers from around the world in slow motion.
- Get creative at an art workshop.
- Eat delicious foods, drinks delightful wines, and browse artisan markets at the Global Village.
- Nourish your weary body with a massage at The Healing Village.
- Or entertain yourself and others in any other ways you want…
Importantly too, festival runnings are professional and smooth. Shows start on time. Set change-overs are efficient. Lighting and sound are quality. Stage emcees do a great job.
The wonderful experience of all that is WOMADelaide, comes at a comparatively cheap festival ticket price too. At its most expensive (post early-bird rates) the cost of a 4 day pass for 2014 was just over $300.
I think I’m on solid ground for declaring WOMADelaide to be one of the world’s best, and Australia’s very best music festival. Don’t you?
The ‘best’ or not (it’s subjective, I know), one thing is for sure. People who have the WOMADelaide experience get happier with each passing festival hour. Somewhere during those 4 festival days, music and festival bliss kicks in.
What do you say peoples? If you’ve already had yourself the WOMADelaide experience, did I get this declaration right? If you haven’t had it yet, surely you want it now?
We’ve only got about 50.5 weeks to wait until WOMADelaide 2015 !