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Last updated Feb 25TH-2001. view at 800 x 600 .


My WomAdelaide

Sunday 18th February 2001.

Artists reviewed- Csokolom. David Bridie , Afro Celt Sound System ,Rokia Traore , Richard Thompson , Papa Wemba ,Pato Banton, Gyoto Monks. .

        Sunday is going to be a lot warmer than Saturday ! Although the heat is mitigated by cloud which prevents the sun from getting out too often and really broiling it up in the afternoon, However, its also extremely humid- a rarity for Adelaide, which normally boasts a dry heat - and no matter how much liquid one consumes ,by the late afternoon, its almost immediately sweated out again and hardly helps to cool one down at all. Its even worse than it was in 1995, when the entire weekend hovered around 37c and the bars were packed to capacity.Fortunately the bars are far better ordered this time round, -one rarely has to wait more than 10 minutes for a drink and mostly its just in and out like Flynn-which a tribute to the hard working bar staff, who really were worked off their feet for most of the weekend.

The intrepid bar staff, working so fast they're just a vague blur !

     Gluttons for punishment , Ian and I are there before noon yet again to catch both Narbarlek and Csokolom in action - so we only see portions of each performers set. Narbarlek are a good band, but overshadowed by the energy of Csokolom , who are powerhouses of the Gypsy violin . The classically trained female violinist from the band is really red faced after a hot workout, "we have to play some slow tunes she says, its so hot." This they proceed to do, to great effect, they are very popular with the crowd. "I'm going to dedicate this to my dog Atap , he's back in Europe where its nice - well its nice here, but its nice and cool there - is it always this hot in Adelaide ? . " (Fortunately no,its not, but thats not a lot of consolation on a weekend when one has to spend the time outdoors instead of huddled round the airconditioner as most Aussies do when its as warm as this).

    The band feature a curious three string viola which is played in a very strange way- and it is with some reluctance that the crowd let them go . But thats Womad for you, the sets cannot over-run, because they won't start the next act on the adjacent stage until the act curerntly playing is finished their set- its good for the acoustic acts as often they cannot be heard at all when the heavily amplified acts perform -but it does mean that there are no encores and many sets finish on a lower note than they need to because we know they are not coming back.


Intrepid boppers dance to Soukous Ba Congo oblivious to the heat of the afternoon sun .

    Like an idiot I brave the midday Sun to catch the last set by Soukous Ba Congo. Its not as exciting as the set on Friday, partly because of the heat- most people sensibly sit back in the shade under the trees - but also because there is a lack of intimacy that comes with the shift to the big stage . Its a good set and the shaven headed ( and modestly named ) King Bell once again whoops it up for the crowd, but overall I preferred Friday's show.

   Stage three plays host to David Bridie, of My Friend the Chocolate Cake and the long defunct Not Drowning Waving fame . Originally good Sir Bridie has only been contracted to play as the backup band for Telek, but due to a family crisis Telek cannot appear, so master Bridie gallantly steps into the breech at the last moment. I must admit that I've seen David Bridie a number of times at Womad - as part of both Chocolate Cake and NDW - and never been terribly impressed, but this time I get IT .

   Accompanied by a three piece band and playing keyboards, he plays a very loud and very intense set of originals, which has me mesmerised, but which leaves Ian cold. I can tell as he soon departs for pastures new , but I stick it our until the end of the set. I must admit though that Ian's reaction is shared by a number in the audience, and its a fairly sparse crowd that are present by the end of the set.

    The heat is pretty rampant, but I'm not going to let that put me off seeing the Afro Celts one more time . There is time to wander and grok on the crowd, take some more pix for the web site and it is while I am admiring the brave souls who are cooling themselves in the mist tents, that I bump into Jennifer -who informs me that her soul mate Andrew is around somewhere nearby - they are finally taking a few hours off to see bands instead of selling glass ! After a pleasant interlude of admiring the site and chewing the fat with A & J I have to take a quick trip over the stage two to secure a good position for the Afro Celts.

        There is some consternation when it is announced from the stage that it will be mostly a mix set as James MacNally has burst an eardrum last night onstage and cannot perform . So its a stripped down Afro Celt's who take to the stage . In fact initially its only Simon Emmerson with head scarf hiding his shaven head who takes to the stage . Standing throughout behind his console, he treats us to a mix of songs from the new album.

Mad dogs and Intrepid Afro Celt fans mash it up in the midday sun.

    Beginning with a slow narrated vocal track , the pace of the set quickens with the addition of Moussa on talking drum . Gradually a few more Celts join in, N'Faly, who more or less contents himself to do the odd spot on vocals and a bit of lurching dancing , Johhny , who once again proves to be a crowd pleaser and the dancer, who does a bit more singing today and who is , at one point , pounced upon by the lady with the yellow knickers who was aroiund for Fruit's set on Saturday .

    Somehow she gets onstage past the security and proceeds to leap onto the unfortunate Afro Celt dancers' back , where she stays for about 20 seconds ,before leaping off and doing some frenzied boogieing ( flashing her underwear to all and sundry to see ) , whereupon she is hauled offstage by embarrassed looking security bods , who I suppose should have prevented her from getting onstage in the first place.

       The rest of the set is comparatively uneventful, but builds to a pretty frenzied climax where the whole crowd near the stage is getting pretty hot and sweaty through some heavy dancing . Lotsa beats, and pretty spacey stuff - its defintely the most techno/trance influenced music of the entire weekend. This must be a pretty rare type of set by the Celts and we got to see two very different sides of their music because of the illness of MacNally- the only positive thing about the incident as its to be hoped thet MacNallys' hearing has now recovered. The Celts are to commended for getting it on in such a way at such short notice and producing such fabulous music for the very appreciativer crowd , whereas many bands would have just given up on the whole thing and not played at all.

    After this , I feel pretty drained and once I find him , so does Ian . After a quick chat with Dave Kelly - another big RT and David Bridie fan , we go off to get some water.One of the stalls provides free filtered water - although not cooled in any way - so we drink a couple of litres each and have a pleasant chat to an elderly couple in the queue about the iniquities of the Howard government. It is now about as hot as it is going to get and we are both affected quite badly by the heat.Just walking the 300 metres or so from the village to stage one transforms both of us into debilitating middle-aged balls of sweat on legs and we are forced to seek shade and more liquid refreshment . Thus we only hear parts of Carlos Nunez's set from afar and we miss his exciting onstage act completely . Having seen him on TV since, this is a great pity, as he really is a most innovative and energetic player, his pipe playing is top notch and he does a lot of whooping and jumping around- although whether he is quite so energetic in the heat is another matter .

    Over on stage two Rokia Traore is dealing out a BIG set and I notice festival director Rob Brookman standing next to the soundboard grokking the music and soaking up the atmosphere. Also I see Labour party leader Mike Rann swanning around looking a bit lost , so the area is literally crawling with celebrities at this moment. .
   After cooling down a bit in a secluded shady spot, we stagger over the 50 metres or more to stage three and collapse near the side of the stage , which is packed solid (one of the few times its hard to get near the front ) and eventually, even though I feel stuffed, I manage to stir myself sufficiently to slide near the stage and take a few snaps of Rokia , who it has to be said, is bloody excellent in every way. However, we are still too hot to manage to go and dance and there's no room anyway, so we hang lose until the set finishes and then grab plumb positions right down front , as the main event is approaching , the last set by Richard Thompson . We are tempted to zip over the 50 metres to stage seven to see the dissolution of the mandala by the Gyoto monks, but this is cancelled for some reason - rescheduled to the late night time of 11 pm , so we stay by the stage and chat to various RT bods who cluster down front. Michael Prescott and son - who is an RT fan apparently, as well as Dave Kelly, Michael Hunter and company. Another great RT set , go here to read all about it. By the time RT hits the stage the vile heat has mitigated somewhat and when he has finished its nearly eight and the shadows are deepening .

Intrepid Ian in front of the stage prior to Richard Thompson's set.

       A quick run over to stage one again to catch Papa Wemba- whose set is excellent, but very similar to the one on Friday night - see review here - its now cool enough to dance and the crowd , although possibly less animated than they were on Friday ( lets face it many of us have been here the whole weekend , by now people are starting to get TIRED ) still get up and boogie pretty hard throughout and are reluctant to let Papa W go at the end of his hour long set . Its been a shame that we did not get to see Femi Kuti , but the Papa has been a very good substitute and we get to see just how his music has moved on since 1995.Its been a good experience to see him develop from being a good to a great artist.

   We miss the beginning of the set by Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits , who lay down a very nice laid back and happy groove on stage 2- nothing earth shattering as per Selif Keita, but the music recommends itself for further listening - its an eclectic mix of various streams of African music and the radio broadcast on the ABC in April 2001 shows the band as offering a unique sound . The crowds are still pretty large, -attendance was down in the afternoon apparently, due to the heat, but the festival still exceeds all previous box office returns and one is glad that they have provided more stages , as it prevents too many people gathering at the mian stages. Even so , by arriving late for The Black Spirits , we really do not get to see or hear them all that well , we have to stand right on the edge of the crowd down the front .

   The final portion of the night is a bit confusing-something of a comedy of errors. , we have to race back over to stage one to see Pato Banton a final time - read the full review here - and this set is a joyous and righteous occasion , but I lose Ian at the end of the show.This usually happens at least once during every festival , as he has a habit of wandering off , but I always seem to be able to find him when I want to do so, this time is an exception . I hang around for about 10 minutes listening to Rob Brookman and Thomas Brooman sign off the festival and even introduce head Adelaide Womad honcho Ian Scobie (left )- to whom we should all be thankful for his excellent organisation skills- but neither hide nor hair is to be seen of Ian . I even stand around in the open for a while but the bird has seemingly flown . We had mentioned going to see the Gyoto Monks after Pato, so I head off there in search of the missing one .

    Stage four is way over the other side of the arena and I've not been there for the whole of the weekend. Its a small stage near the Sea Of Hands- a large artwork composed on cut out hands planted in the soil- an interesting piece which I only get a glimpse of in the semi darkness. Stage four is lit, but the environs are in almost total darkness. The crowd of several thousand are raptly listening to the Monks and after scanning the area in vain for Ian I do the same, as I figure I won't find him under these circumstances , he's very likely in the audience somewhere and he can't go anywhere as I have the car.

    The Monks are fabulous -see review- but at the end , still no sign of Ian . So I rush over to the main gate and wait. Ten, fifteen minutes , until the crowd has thinned to a mere trickle. Still no Ian ! I figure the best bet is now to return to the car, so I take off , only to see the intrepid Andrew and Jennifer STILL selling glassware outside the gate. They tell me that Ian has rushed past them about an hour and half earlier, not even stopping to talk , blurting something about me waiting for him at the car ! Very curious , but at least I now know where the hell he is. I find him sitting on a bench in the Parklands , worn out but happy to see me .As usual he has been found, but this time, its much harder than usual to catch him !

   Work beckons the next day, I have an hours drive before I get home and its been a hectic and tiring weekend ,( little do we know that it takes about a week for everyone to recover from the overload of heat and overconsumption ) , but its been more than worthwhile- as usual !. With the news that the festival will be held annually instead of Bi annually, we all make a collective vow to start saving the pennies weekly so we can afford to visit this doyen of festivals for the entire weekend again in 2003 and onward until at least 2009 .

Womadelaide - its shorthand for bloody wonderful mate !

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