It’s an experience, one that covers the brilliant, quirky and the downright weird.
That’s probably what keeps me heading to Botanic Park to set up under “our” tree year after year, our little group forming part of the 90,000 who attended throughout the four days.
Womad is billed as the world’s festival, and 2018 certainly didn’t disappoint.
Highlights this time around:
Dan Sultan (Australia)
A brilliant guitarist and gifted singer-songwriter, Sultan started playing guitar at 4 and wrote his first song at 10. All that practice has paid off with his voice and guitar riffs, as one of our group commented, being as close to Bruce Springsteen as you can get. His gritty blues-rock had the audience up and dancing until the closing chord.
Rodrigo n Gabriela (Mexico)
I’ve seen this duo perform before and even bought their CD, so was looking forward to their Womad return and wasn’t disappointed. They’ve come a long way from busking on the streets of Dublin, and their duets on flamenco guitar, acoustic folk and rock make them a must see every time.
Le Vent du Nord (Canada)
What’s not to love about a group of foot-stomping French Canadians playing accordion, bouzouki, guitar and fiddle, and just having fun.
Okay, this is where the where the quirky comes in, and you have to ask why 28 men with no connection to Russia would meet every week in Mullumbimby to share beers and sing Russian songs. They call themselves Dustyesky which, at first glance, appears to be Russian until you pronounce it slowly. I love Aussie humour. Their performance was a standout. Not only can these guys sing, they made sure the thousands in front of the stage had a good time as well.
Featuring some of the country’s leading musos, this act’s mix of old Yiddish drinking songs, thrown in with some 1930s big band numbers, jazz and pop, set the mood for another great Saturday night. A cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer was a standout.
Cie Pernette (France)
Cie Pernette’s performance, Commandeau, was a little bit weird even for street theatre. Professional dancers and local volunteers celebrated water by squirting the unsuspecting audience to the tune of Strauss’s Blue Danube.
Place des Anges (France)
This act made its presence felt in more ways than one. It was the first time French company Cratte Ciel (skyscraper) had attempted to stage its aerial ballet outdoors, requiring several large cranes to be set up around the park. Spotlights illuminated the circus performers/dancers dressed as irreverent angels who sprinkled the audience below with feathers. Yes, feathers, with a total of four tonne raining down over the four nights, creating some flak from some sections of the crowd. My question is, where on Earth do you source that amount of feathers?
PS Does someone have to vacuum up the feathers now Womad’s over for another year?