Round up: despite a wobbly moment with the weather on Friday morning, the festival was flawless in every other way. Some great bands, clearly enjoying playing to audiences free to dance and enjoy the non-auditorium experience, strutted the various stages. My favourites were probably Alpha Blondy (I didn’t even know I liked his music that much before), Baaba Maal of course and Faiz Ali Faiz among the bigger names. The dynamo Nomfusi was a refreshing blast of energy and the reflexive Samuel Yirga caught my attention among the newer names.
It was great to see the festival so well organised. Almost no litter at all thanks to enterprising children getting money back on empty plastic glasses, the beautiful arboretum to wander through, great indian food and some damn fine coffee made it a real pleasure to be there.
Sun shining again for the final day of WOMAD. Looking forward to seeing Ebo Taylor today and lots more hidden gems. Check out our audio slideshow for a taste of WOMAD on Saturday.
Download Saturday at WOMAD 2011
SATURDAY: Finally the sun shone hard on WOMAD after a grey but mostly dry Friday. Check out our slideshow for a flavour of what happened on Friday.
Just ran into the legendary Paul Bradshaw of Straight No Chaser fame. We were talking about the search for the elusive shiver moments when you are listening to music. I then had one with the amazing Faiz Ali Faiz. Not surprising perhaps because he performs at an ecstatic pitch singing Qawwali music. I also had the great fortune to finally hear the song bird of northern Mali Kaira Arby – such power and joy.
You don’t normally get much jazz at WOMAD but this year Ethiopian Samuel Yirga and his quartet played a scintillating set of straight-ahead jazz but infused with the scales and melodies of his homeland. He is a real talent on the piano and he was joined by a top team of Ethio-jazz stalwarts on drums, bass and sax.
FRIDAY: Afrocubism took the main stage and yet again showed that even Cubans can’t hold a match to the Mali allstars. But it was Alpha Blondy who blew everyone away with an amazing set.
Taraf de Haidouks blasting through the tunes in the Siam tent. Rolling bass, tik-a-tak-a-tik percussion, screaming violins and crazy time shifts: gets you every time.
A magic moment; El Tanbura playing the songs they played in the Tahrir square to cheer on the Egyptian revolution. Who says music changes nothing? Before them we were treated to sacred music and dance from Orissa in India courtesy of The Gotipuas.
The festival kicked off on Thursday night with a rather generous hour and a half set from folk monsters Bellowhead on a sultry summer evening. Now in its 5th year at Malmesbury, the site is settled and working well. Despite a drizzly Friday morning, the ground is thankfully rock hard and the weather forecast is good. So if you are making your way down, get going soon and you can catch Jazz Jamaica and El Tanbura before the promised beautiful sunset bathes us in its warm glow.