thu 25/07/2024

WOMAD 2013, Charlton Park - Day Two | reviews, news & interviews

WOMAD 2013, Charlton Park - Day Two

WOMAD 2013, Charlton Park - Day Two

WOMAD lights up with startling sounds in the blazing heat

Seun Kuti shows WOMAD a riotous Afrofunk timePhotos © G Brunelli

If there’s a patron saint of WOMAD it must be Bob Marley. His visage, serious but gentle, peers out from more T-shirts than I care to count. And all the festival-goers who don’t have WOMAD-standard long, white, straggly hair sport dreadlocks. The silliest haircut goes to a fellow in (again) WOMAD-standard travellers’ pantaloons who sports small knots of hair, each tied with a different coloured elastic band.

But I digress. After a night where my pals Finetime and Ted Ted led me off the beaten track, sampling the DJ at Molly’s Bar spinning everything from dubstep to Balkan beats, I rise very late. Thus I hear from a distance both bhangra rockers Kissmet and DJ Quantic’s latest Colombian music project, Ondatrópica. They both sound full of fire but I cannot yet move.

This place is global hippy good cheer for all the family

First off, then, is Spoek in the Big Red Tent. He formally went by his full name, Spoek Mathambo, and his politically orientated, percussion-heavy hotch-potch of hip hop, electro and a hint of his native South Africa proves a decent wakener. A DJ spins behind him but more zest is provided by two sassy female backing singers who also wield percussion. “Swing your bodies to get some air generating,” he says, since the heat is almost oppressive by Brit standards.

Wandering slightly listlessly about, sucking cider and eating fruit & nut fudge in an attempt to wake the day up, I come across Family Atlantica at the BBC3 Stage. This London outfit, as their headdress-wearing female singer tells us, “honour the continents around the Atlantic – South America, Europe and Africa”. When she says the last word a barrage of tribal drums kicks in. They are a loose-jammed, upbeat amalgam of Venezuela and Ghana (and probably much else). They’re jazzy too – jazz on a summer’s day. As I wander away they’re playing “a Venezuelan tongue twister – to twist your miiiiiiiind!”

For mind-twisting, however, you’re better off taking a peek at the Gong Bath tent in the World of Wellbeing. A man called Colin in flowing white robe-like clothing is New Age hippy incarnate as he bashes a gong next to the head of his latest customer, lying blindfolded on a table. His female life partner sits nearby smiling benignly and swaying in quiet ecstasy. They look like they’ve all had more than enough gong. Fair game, though, he’s booked up all weekend.

Brilliantly, as I walk past the main stage Max Romeo is playing his anthem “Chase the Devil” and, blissed on sun, the whole field is skanking and singing along – “I’m gonna send him to outer space to find another race." I’m on my way to the Big Red Tent to see south London dubstep pioneer Mala’s new project, Mala in Cuba, which resulted from a trip he took to that country with Gilles Peterson a couple of years back. I was very much looking forward to this. The set-up is Mala and an accomplice playing synthesisers, interacting with a very fluid percussionist. There are sweetly delicious moments, and the tent was wriggling along, but it was a bit mellow jazzbo for my taste. Towards the end singer Holly Holden arrives onstage to front luscious Hispanic sounds, and bossa nova-touched songs.

It’s an engaging conclusion but the only act I’ve seen so far who completely tore the lid off the place - albeit rather nicely – was Parov Stelar. The band started life from Austrian DJ-producer Marcus Füreder's groundbreaking DJ sets wherein he combined electronic beats with swing sounds from the Twenties, Thirties and Forties (Füreder pictured right). Electro-swing was born, but the set is not restricted to that. With feisty hotpant-wearing Viennese frontwoman Cleo Panther clutching a ridiculously long cigarette-holder and boosted by hugely forceful sax and trumpet players, his set is redolent of Laurent Garnier but more accessibly fun. For every cyber-Cab Calloway moment, there’s a bubbling house tune, yet all organic enough – just – to drag along the WOMAD crowd. They receive the loudest applause and lots of energised dancing.

A man in a suit made of acrylic cheetah fur sells vodka jellies to the crowd. This highlight is followed by Nigerian Afrobeat star and son of Fela, Seun Kuti, on the main stage which he fills with dancing and colour, but I have to leave him behind to eat Caribbean jerk chicken and file this report. So this WOMAD virgin now dives into the last two days reckoning this place is global hippy good cheer for all the family.

The only I act I’ve seen so far who completely tore the lid off the place - albeit rather nicely – was Parov Stelar


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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