Review: WOMADelaide 2016

Review by Caleb Sweeting
Photos taken by Bryn Taylor 

If there’s one thing that the organisers of WOMADelaide should be proud of is the respect that everyone has for each other at the event... Of course this is probably due to the family friendly atmosphere, and the fact that there wasn’t a 'festival dickhead' in sight. At any other music festival you feel like you’re walking through a sea of empty beer cans and plastic cups – but in Botanic Park the grass was vacant of any rubbish and again nature was treated with respect. 

Sunset at Womad

Sunset at Womad

Day 3 and 4 definitely lived up to the first half of the festival (read our Day 1 and 2 review here) – Sarah Blasko may have been one of the less exotic artists on the line-up, but the Aria award winner was welcomed by fans in the crowd with open arms - “We love you Sarah” fans screamed to which she replied “Thank you” - quite chuffed this definitely gave her a confidence booster (not that she needed one). The sun showed everyone who was boss, as Blasko laughed and described how the afternoon heat was melting her band member’s keyboard. She gracefully played songs from her most recent LP Eternal Return, with plenty of pop hooks and 80s synth the crowd were more than pleased with the first live airing of the album. 

I caught Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro on Sunday, and yes they are as funky as their band name; possibly the Japanese equivalent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (in a weird way). Imagine six well-dressed Japanese men on stage throwing down 70s soul with a sprinkle of jazz and good old rock 'n’ roll… Cool right? The crowd asked for an encore and they received a jam of Godzilla proportions. All I can say is Japan has a music scene that I’ve never heard before and my ears want more.

Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro

Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro

After Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro, I was hungry, hungry for Spanish - and Diego el Cigala satisfied with fiery-flamenco. It sounds like there is a fire pit in Cigala’s stomach and his throat is a chimney for his smoky vocals.

Another highlight would have to be Marlon Williams & the Yarra Benders; the company of bats hanging upside down above the Novatech Stage really was a picture perfect setting for his set. What else can I say but this really was an incredible performance from the Kiwi who now calls Melbourne home. Marlon’s voice is heavenly, especially when joined on stage with The Yarra Benders featuring the mandolin, double bass, fiddle, electric and acoustic guitar, with the backing of drummer Gus Agars who really has some guts behind him on the kit. By the end of his set I couldn’t help but get my jazz hands out and thank the heavens for this modern and pure musician.

Marlon Williams

Marlon Williams

Asian Dub Foundation used their dub sound to really get the crowd pumped; on stage they raged against oppression and injustice, proving their music isn’t just about the beat.

Another highlight was the high energy of NOZU, the Melbourne based group combine boogie, dub and salsa – I’d love to catch their ‘heat beat’ in sweaty night club setting.

But Songhoy Blues and their guitar driven blues really had everyone in boogie mode – even Dr Karl (who was a guest speaker at the University of South Australia's The Planet Talks) was spotted getting groovy in the crowd.

Songhoy Blues

Songhoy Blues

WOMAD opened with a wow-out-loud performance from The Cat Empire and wrapped up with Melbourne’s dreamy Alpine who played poppy hits from their latest album Yuck… Luckily, like the weekend as a whole, their set was far from yuck, in fact it was delicious. 

Alpine

Alpine

After four days of not wearing socks and shoes, I’m starting to like the idea of never wearing them again – if only everywhere was as spongey as the grass in-between your toes at WOMADelaide.

Take a look at our full gallery here.