Englands premier world music festival was blessed with good weather this year – not a drop of rain to spoil the proceedings. No queues on the way in (or out) – loads of room to camp with our pals…..what more do you want? Well a host of great music would help and that’s what we got. Looking at the line up for WOMAD I guess I knew or had heard about 5% of the acts playing. That might put some people off but I find it exhilarating. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, another stage is just a few minutes walk away, probably with some extraordinary musicians on stage. I thought I’d do this review as a picture diary so here goes…..
The kids love womad – Matty and Sally get to play in the kids area and Marisa gets to swan off with her mates (we hardly saw her all week end 🙁
Fri 23rd 3pm: Toumast were playing the main stage when we got in – but we didn’t pay too much attention as we were busy meeting up with friends Catherine and Chris, but they were later to become one of my faves…
3.30pm: On the way to the real ale tent to meet Guy and Clare we passed some Japanese drummers on the newly named Charlie Gillet stage – no idea who they were but they sure knew how to bang a drum
4pm: Next in the siam tent (next to the main open air stage, as one stops the other starts) was the cuban groove machine that is Sierra Maestra. Had the whole tent dancing with smiles on our faces.
5pm: Next up on the main stage was Horace Andy. His band came on first and were playing something that certainly wasn’t reggae……normal service was resumed once he came on.
6pm: Lee took the kids back to the tent for some food leaving me to wander. Caught Gabby Young & other animals which was a crazy mix of burlesque rag time jazz type stuff with Gabby’s amazing voice holding it all together.
7pm: There was a stage in the real ale tent where various ‘workshops’ took place – I’d arranged to meet Guy and Clare there for the Toumast workshop and was delighted to see Justin Adams at the back of the tent, playing with his kids “Mr Adams, I saw you last week at the Deershed festival and thoght you were fantastic!” “Thank you very much – it was a bit of a shlep getting up there” “Not for me, just 30 mins up the road”. He interviewed Toumast main man ‘Moussa’ about his influences and musical upbringinging and after a brief Q+A with the audience (all 20 of us) they played a set – and what a set!
To be just a few feet away from such an amazing sound was a real privilege! Still not sure how she did the yodelling thing…..
8pm: The rest of our posse arrived on site about this time. They’d not been able to leave Leeds until after school time. We all gathered at the Radio 3 stage for Leeds finest ‘Chumbawamba’ who were funny and poignant all at the same time. “The Americans used heavy metal music whilst torturing prisoners in Iraq and whilst most of the artists involved condemed it, Metallica came out to say they were glad their music had been used, so this song is called ‘Torturing James Hetfield‘”
9.30pm Lee takes the kids off to bed and Iona & I show Kyla around the site to get her barings – here with Ozomatli in the background and out side an African drum stall with a belly dancer giving it her all…..
11pm: Ska Cubano take to the Radio 3 stage and do just what it says on the tin – smile inducing Cuban rhrythms with with a ska twist. Every song had a sing-a-long bit (and I can’t remember any of them now) – The crowd kept bringing them back for encore after encore – Very entertaining!
12.15am: Caught a bit of Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole doing their zydeco thing – another funny guy who is at home on the stage.
1am: Hanggai were billed as the Mongolian Pogues…..which HAS to be worth checking out. Unfortunately they didn’t quite live up to the Pogues bit. It had been a long hard day and bed beckonned.
Sat 24th Early: A beautiful sunny day started quite lazily around the camp. The teenagers (Marisa, Valentina, Anna and Jess) had all sleptin one tiny tent but seemed non-the worse for it.
12ish: We hit the Kids World field. Sally had to wait for about an hour in a queue to have her face painted (one of the face painters was a REAL perfectionist!) but she was happy to wait and happy with the result.
Loads for them to do but Matty and the girls spent most of their time playing murderball.
2pm: Had a lay down in the sun outside the big red tent where Gilzene & the blue light mento band were playing. Infectious mento sounds with perhaps the worlds oldest banjo player!
3pm: The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain took to the main stage (Sally with her ear protectors on is at the front on Lee’s shoulders) and were fantastic. Hillariously posh renderings of Shaft and Anachy in the UK were just 2 of the highlights.
3pm: A Bavarian skater punk brass band might not be a genre of music you’re familiar with but La Brass Banda did it like it was the most natural thing in the world! “Back home in Bavaria they don’t understand what we do – but you do!” More More More!!!!!!
6pm: Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara grace the Siam stage and deliver another great set. At the end Peter Gabriel came on to give them a Songlines magazine award for their LP being the best cross cultural collaboration. Lee got me a signed copy…..I didn’t want to appear like Justin’s stalker
7.30pm: My turn to take the kids home (and as I was knackered, I was quite pleased!). On the way back to the tent we saw Peter Gabriel taking to some of the punters. “See him Matty, he’s Peter and he started this festival – it wouldn’t be here without him” “Awesome! I give him 10/10!” Me too son, me too………..
9pm: Back at the tent, Zareen, Dave and Janet were preparing to head out again – although Zareen didn’t make it and we stayed up gabbing for ages on the nature of coincidence (a friend she once met used to live in her house before she did – could describe all the rooms in her house….)
Dave showed his prowess with the poi-poi and then it was time for bed. The others raved about Don Letts and Cerys Matthews and amazing throat singers……but I was happy in my sleeping bag thank you very much.
Sun 25th Early: The ladies went off to do Tai Chi whilst the blokes did child care (ie sit around drinking tea whilst the kids played a seemingly never ending game of Uno).
12.00: Wandering around with Marisa and Valentina we happened upon a cookery demo by Dobet Gnahore which was proceeded by her singing – what a voice! Sorry we missed her set yesterday.
1pm: Khyam Allami & Andrea Piccioni graced the radio 3 stage. Amazing sounds from his ‘oud’…..but I was in the mood to dance….so…
1.10pm: Went to see Planeta Lem who have connections with Manu Chao. Bumped into Agustine there…….but it still wasn’t ‘up’ enough for me so I dragged Agu to the real Ale Tent
1.15pm: The Samba workshop that was going on was SUPERB! Trio Da Pasada had us all waliking in time to the samba and beating out time on aout chests and clapping different beats – bloody fantastic!
4pm: Rolf Harris was as wonderful as ever playing to a packed tent. “I hope that’s not one of those bloody vuvuzela’s – it’s no wonder they put your team off in the world cup”. Had all us adults in stitches but the kids weren’t quite as impressed. Two little boys had me welling up again!
Inspired by what I saw at Glasto, I’d done my own Jake the peg costume – but it was just TOO HOT to wear…..still, I’m sorted for the next fancy dress we go to
7pm: After a quick break back at the tent we got back in time to catch the end of Imelda May’s set. She ROCKED the joint for sure ending with a blistering version of Tainted Love – pure class
8.30pm: We hung around outside the Afro Celt Soundsystem and took turns dipping in and getting near the front
The mix of instruments and beats was amazing. The penny whistle having competitions with rhe Cora – quite dazzling
9.30: Lee decided to take the kids back and we were saying goodbye as Gil Scott Heron started. I wasn’t that bothered about seeing him but within 5 mins he had me! sat at his keyboard on his own, tinkling away and telling stories – he was hillarious! His band joined him after a while and he got us all to join in “You don’t get any words to sing, just the ‘do-do-do’s’. I was in a band for 2 years doing that before they’d let me sing any words”. PURE CLASS
He managed to be funny and moving, joyous and sad all at the same time. quite extraoridary
I know I said this last year but – I can’t wait for the next one – Thank you WOMAD
Bob the Chiropodist