Highlights of Sunday @ Womad 2015


On the last day of its 2015 edition WOMAD UK raised the curtain to present some hugely talented women artists and big bands. The closing day of the festival showcased some inspiring female singers, songwriters and interpreters, and there was a multitude of energetic ensembles playing on the main Charlton Park stages. Despite the malingering rain that didn’t want to leave Malmesbury (instead insistently annoing the audience throughout the day) Sunday enjoyed some memorable musical moments.

The first highlight of the day was without doubt the enchanting and gifted voice of Mauritanian Noura Mint Seymali. On the Open Air Stage and under a torrent of rain the remarkable African artist was able to transpose the centuries-old griot tradition of her country into a more contemporary context, adding raw patterns and rock attitude.

As soon as her show was over, Kočani Orkestar started to blow into their brass instruments and, moments later were already blowing away the audience. The Siam Tent was permeated by the glorious and overflowing Balkan sound of the ten-member band, which drove people crazy with its frenzied tempos and odd time signatures.

Back on the Open Air Stage, another charming performer easily seduced her audience. When the seventy-six year old Brazilian singer Dona Onete sat on her floral throne and began to intone her fusion of popular Northern Brazilian tunes made of samba and a “touch of spice”, everyone listening to her emphatic voice quickly forgot the raindrops falling on their heads and were over the moon with delight.

Meanwhile, minutes later, back on earth and a world away, we were in the Siam Tent for Ghostpoet’s show. The British vocalist, songwriter and musician along with his musical partners brought the city atmosphere of London to WOMAD.

The band’s urban soundscapes, consisting of haunted electronic visions, extreme noise breaks and down-tempo backgrounds showed, as if it was necessary, the eclectic musical tastes of the Festival organisers.

It was a short step from London to New York, as far as from the Open Air Stage to the Red Tent. There, the Brooklyn based Red Baraat excited their fans with their infective bhangra music contaminated by South American rhythms, hip-hop beats and funky indomitable energy which corroborated their reputation as one of the best party bands in the world. The majesty of their dhol, the brilliance of their brass and the drive of their rhymes instantly caught on and drove the audience into moving their feet.

That was one brilliant hour and a half of mighty beats and feverish pace, slowing only when the suggestive and warm textures of Laura Mvula’s vocal cords and soulful mood grabbed the spotlight. At the same time the Turkish born singer-songwriter Olcay Bayir was on the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage. Accompanied by some superlative and multiethnic musicians she revived her Kurdish roots and the Turkish folklore in a musical journey through Anatolia.

The secret was once again in the voice of the interpreter, which charmed the audience thanks to its grace and impressive range.

The alchemy created by the London-based artist lasted until the first rare and vintage groove of Analog Africa Soundsystem flowed from the top-end speakers of the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System. There, Samy Ben Redjeb and Pedo Knopp, the duo behind the German label, kept us moving in fine style with their refined musical tastes and exploratory skills. And thus ended another unforgettable edition of WOMAD, the 33rd of its remarkable and tuneful story.

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