Womadelaide 2016- the magic continues
Just one year on I’d forgotten how unique and special Womadelaide is. Even before arriving at Botanic Park, whisked through rush hour traffic by a rickshaw just for ticket holders, you feel the enchantment. You never know what is going to greet you on the other side…
This time a giant inflatable bouncy Stonehenge, belly dancing lessons, the (un)usual paraphernalia of craziness, and possibly the best festival food in the world, including nomad chef Jock Zonfrillo’s STREET restaurant and his new Nonna Mallozzi food truck. A far cry from the alleged apathy or Fringe burnout of Adelaide audiences, the first night was a sell out with long lineups to get in.
Without knowing many of the artists, a stroll round the seven stages was a musical lucky dip. Surprise delights included New York’s Hazmat Modine, a tuba-led eleven piece shuffling jazzy rhythms; electric delta bluesman Cedric Burnside (Memphis) and French electro-world outfit Orange Blossom.
By a country mile- in fact the band ‘s hometown Iqaluit lies 2,000 km north of Montreal- my favourite was The Jerry Cans (pictured above). A kind of folkier Arctic Circle version of Arcade Fire, featuring the instruments of Arcadia: accordions and fiddles, and singing in what appeared to be a mixture of English, French and Inuit, their energy and humour had the audience enthused. There is a particular magic about the Moreton Bay stage, under the boughs and amidst roots of these majestic trees that made for a barn dance-village hall-ceilidh feeling.
Violent Femmes, country-ish punks from Milwaukee, surprised the audience by opening with perennial favourite Blister in the Sun. There is not a pub band in Australia who haven’t covered this song, even I have played it. Nobody appeared to have told frontman Gordon Gano that the band was gigging that night, as he resembled an accountant on holiday rather than a bona fide punk rocker. Fortunately the rest of the band were suitably attired and rocked out appropriately, acoustic bassist Brian Ritchie revelling and excelling in his role. Despite their breakneck start, the Femmes had enough in their set to maintain the energy with Kiss Off and American Music outstanding, to their finale, the x-rated Add it up-not much accountancy going on in those lyrics.
The night’s headline act was Melbourne’s The Cat Empire with their sophisticated, brassy Latino-infused sound. Delving into impro-jazz and ska, their classy set was a suitable finale to the first night of Womadelaide 2016. One world, one music, one love. The Mad March magic continues.
See also Womadelaide- Stay Gold.