|I’m dead on my feet after yet another glorious day here in Taranaki. The weather Gods have been kind and the sun has shone all day on the fortunate good folk that came out to share in all of this wonderful music today.It all started for me at 12 o’clock on the Bowl Stage, Mahala Rai Banda. Roaring roots rockers from Romania. Am I glad that I had that second coffee this morning! What a way to start the day. The crowd was with me from the start. Up on their feet and dancing as if their lives depended on it. Gypsy funk with a mix of Arabic dub and soul thrown in for good measure. If only every morning could start this way.From Palestine came the next artists for me. Three brothers Samir, Wissam and Adnan Joubran. Le Trio Joubran. From a long line of oud players this remarkable family have been playing and making ouds for four generations. Taking a year to make these instruments from this family of luthiers can fetch as much as a Stradivarius violin. This was evocative music filled with passion and charm. Rich improvisations that reached deep into the soul.Continuing with my musical journey I was eager to see the young flamenco artist Diego Guerrero next. Having heard him talking about his music, and his politics, at an earlier media conference I was looking forward to see if these emotions came through in his music as well. They did. Diego Guerrero Y El Solar de Artistas were expressive to the max. Fusing flamenco with Afro-Cuban Rhythms I had my second dance of the day. Should you ever have the opportunity to see this young man then I recommend that you do so. It was a spirited and highly enjoyable performance.After a look in on Alabama 3’s acoustic performance I scurried on down to the Bowl to watch the band I enjoyed so much last night. Lojo. This time they were playing on the larger Bowl stage and I wondered whether their intimate sound might get lost out there. I had nothing to worry about though. Lojo’s hypnotic and infections charm had one of the afternoon’s biggest crowds and they went down fantastic. I really like this band so I guess that there isn’t much that these guys can do wrong in my book. Their set was once again like a circus performance with Denis Pean the master of ceremonies. Think Tom Waits and Swordfishtrombone but in French and you’ve got it. Well almost. I spoke to Denis later on after the set and he told me that the material they were playing now was from a new album that they will be releasing later this year. About September. If you’re wanting to hear something recent and definitely one that I’d recommend then check out their latest one. Lojo: Cosmophono. That should hold you over until the new album comes out.
Two very powerful sets followed Lojo and I managed to enjoy both of them. (Well…two halves anyway). Pity that they clashed but it made for an enjoyable hour. Starting off with The Yoots. Formed by Hopepa from Fat Freddy’s Drop, This exciting ska driven band was loved by everyone that came to see them. Maori waiata in the most original and unexpected way. Fantastic and really enjoyable. Had I not had this desire to see more of Dobet Gnahore I would have stayed with the Yoots but I’m a photographer and I wanted to see more of this versatile entertainer and try and capture her performance. I’m so glad that I did. She was stunning today and I, along with all the others that saw her set, was blown away by her powerful show. Dobet’s band was tight and mean. She was meaner still. A truly incredible artist and just one more reason why coming to WOMAD was worth the trip.
There was lots more happening around the site. Too many to mention sadly. Pascals from Japan were just great. A 16 piece acoustic orchestra that was zany, fun, whimsical and playful, yet they were all such wonderful musicians. I loved them and I’ll be going back to see more of them tomorrow.
Finally two performances before I hit the sack. First, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Staff Benda Belili. Handicapped by polio enduring the hardships of living rough of the streets, this incredible band has risen to become one of the international sensations in recent years. The Congolese rhythms pulsating from the stage tonight must have brought joy to everyone who saw their performance. Inspirational.
And Finally The Finn family took to Taranaki tonight. Neil, Sharon, Liam and Elroy, together with the exceptional Sean Donnelly, they would have taken the roof off where there one this evening. If this is what they do when the curtains are closed at the Finn’s residence then I wouldn’t mind an invite sometime. Standout for me wasn’t a Neil Finn song however but a storming version of Bowie’s Moonage Daydream. Neil and Liam trading licks and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Checking out a few other stages on the way out I enjoyed what I saw of Anda Union and I shall be focusing on them for sure tomorrow.