WOMADelaide 2020 was held in the glorious Adelaide Botanic Gardens this past March long weekend. With Adelaide’s glorious weather on show, it was no wonder that the previous attendance records were broken with 97,000 festival goers piling through the gates. Known as the ‘World Festival’, WOMADelaide, certainly brought the best of world’s musicians and made a great weekend of entertainment and variety for the whole family.
With so much entertainment on offer, thankfully most of the acts played multiple times over the long weekend, giving punters a chance to see as much as possible. From the roving four metre high puppets that were the Company Archibald Caramantran, the visually stunning tree projections “Monuments’ from artist Craig Walsh, to all the amazing musicians from all over the world.
Our favourite performances for WOMADelaide 2020 included:
Flor de Toloache– This Latino powerhouse band from New York were a true surprise. Their classic Mariachi music was a fascinating mix of classic and contemporary styles; from their Mexican call outs to the real life story lines. From spellbinding original scores to Mariachi versions of Nirvana and a little tease of Led Zeppelin, these girls certainly knew how to entertain the growing and inquisitive crowd.
Ngaiire– On the green and forestry Stage 7, surrounded by summer vibes, picnic rugs and the sound of mingling bats, the award-winning artist from PNG, welcomed her fans with a slow and moody number. Before long, the audience gathered at the front, danced and enjoyed the talented expressive singer and her soulful performance. Her powerful voice captured the hearts of the audience, and her amazing silver costume drew in the curious. Her new song Takeover had the audience swinging and swaying to the beats.
Dr Piffle & the Burlap Band– This punk inspired band were an unexpected favourite, which was evident by the big crowd gathered to see these Australian wild boys perform. The eager crowd lapped up everything this original band played for them and in return gave back their enthusiasm and audible support. The all male band, who looked fresh out of an Aussie shearing shed, gave off an amazing energy, as they clearly enjoyed playing their signature high energy punk/folk. Their instrument collection is one of a kind: Homespun instruments like washboards, Banjo, harmonica, string bass just added to the uniqueness of this group.
The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra– As the sun was setting, the audience was all ready to boogie and have some fun. The 18-piece afro band, led by four beautifully dressed singers and dancers, delivered a fun packed and energetic set of original afro beat. The band started with a passionate and heartfelt Welcome to Country, before starting their passionate and opinionated set. The front leads danced and sang, and had the audience moving and swaying along, warming up the crowds to a strong session of beats, guitar solos and native vocals.
Deline Briscoe– A mature audience welcomed Deline to the small Zoo Stage. The indigenous singer, (a Yalangi song woman from the Daintree region), took us to dream country with three backing vocalists supporting her in her opening number; A slow and moody song complementing her full and soulful voice as she sang in native dialect. Deline is such a stunning storyteller threading her stories into her divine music.
As the World Tipped – This special theatre performance was truly one of a kind. With a full gathered seated arena, this vertical spectacular was something the audience will surely talk about for a while to come.
Set on a mobile theatre stage connected to a 20m crane, the cast delivered a convincing performance as office workers during an international climate conference. As the discussions and disagreements of politicians declined, and as a result our climate and our planet seem doomed, the stage slowly lifted and sent the players spinning literally and metaphorically. The ensuing spectacle was a visual feast that spellbound their audience to the last minute. The stunning visuals and acrobatics told a gruelling but fascinating story of the effects of weather events preempted by climate change.
The Cat Empire – Eager to hear this gem of a band play, the crowd gathered early on at The Foundation Stage. True to their reputation, the band didn’t disappoint and you can see why they were the headliners on the opening night of the festival. Lead singer Felix Riebl was fully engaged with the crowd, managing to get them dancing to their latino inspired beats and singing to their favourite numbers
B.Dance– As the first night drew to a close B.Dance mesmerised their unsuspecting audience with a beautifully visual performance. The Taiwanese dancers transformed into delicate white floating flowers that twirled, twisted, rose and sank to a melancholy and evocative soundtrack.
With smoke blowing across the stage, and a mix of modern dance and classical ballet, they created a dreamlike atmosphere.
It was such a captivating performance, accompanied by beautiful music that moodily underscored the artistic performance on stage.
Kate Miller Heidke– The Stage Two opener was no other than Australian sweetheart, Kate Miller Heidke. A sea of fans welcomed the well loved singer, who was a tough act to follow this year. Miller-Heidke, (donning a stunning sparkly number and a golden leaf crown) had the crowd mesmerised from the first chord. The crowd was fully engaged in her set and loved her unique classically trained vocals. To top off this great set, the Company Archibald Caramantran surprised the gathered crowds with their four meter high puppets, that roamed the crowd and delighted kids and adults alike.
The Blind boys of Alabama– Following a strong Welcome to Country moments before, the Blind Boys of Alabama graced the stage with reverence and applause. The charming and chatty seniors, addressed the quickly forming crowd and gave some background to their amazing history, before kicking off the set with smokey and smooth vocals kicking off a great evening of music. Their trained and seasoned voices delivered good old gospel songs, taking us down memory lane with their Mississippi style tunes.
Briggs– Drawing in a huge crowd on Sunday night, the proud Yorta Yorta musician from regional Victoria, delivered a yet another strong performance. He had the crowd at his fingertips within minutes and had them cheering along to his antics. The audience was wrapped from the moment he swaggered on to the stage and won hearts straight away. Briggs showed us why he is so successful.
Thandi Phoenix– The cosy Stage 7 at sunset was the perfect setting for Thandi Phoenix’s set. Thandi walked on stage and immediately captured the growing audience with her amazing vocals and stage presence. The young artist’s sensual vocals, mixed with her own electronic beat work, drew in her crowd and showed us why she is a growing force to be reckoned with. It was a visually and aurally beautiful performance.
Rura– The seasoned folk band from Scotland, quickly gathered a crowd with their beautiful and jig-worthy tunes. A clear crowd favourite of the festival, the band played their homespun songs whilst the audience danced, clapped and tapped their feet. With their beautiful musical storytelling, the band all played with such passion and the crowd loved it.
Ifriqiyya Elextrique- With a mix of traditional sub-saharan sounds and full on heavy metal, these rockers certainly were the surprise act of the festival. The crowd were mesmerised by them especially with the harsh death metal vocals of the female lead singer. The visually stunning set with videos behind them, their trance like tunes were certainly a welcomed surprise for those punters that wanted to listen to something a little harder.
Matt Corby– With the cancellation of Ziggy Marley only a few days before the festival commenced, Matt Corby was announced as his replacement. But clearly, from his performance, he wasn’t a replacement; he was the headliner. A huge crowd gathered on the last night of the festival to welcome Corby with opened arms. An animated singer, Corby opened up with joking with the audience that he wasn’t a grammy award winner, but here he was. The upbeat and smooth stylings of Corby, had the crowd dancing and proving that he was no second prize. This talented multi instrumentalist showed the crowd that he deserved to finish the festival off with his set.
With the festival wrapping up for another year, it is with a heavy heart that we have to wait a year for another festival of this line up and calibre. The family friendly festival is certainly a way to discover new bands, new favourites and have a great time with friends and family.
You can view our full gallery from Kylie Carns Photography here