All entries for Monday 27 July 2009

July 27, 2009

WOMAD 2009

Here’s some typed up gig notes from this year’s WOMAD. Note ratings are entirely opinion, and I didn’t write notes for every gig I heard.

Thursday

Music from the Penguin Cafe

Brief reformation of many of the Penguin Cafe musicians under Simon Jeffes’ son. Good set, especially since it was on the pre-programme. Really ought to listen to some of the original band’s stuff.

6/10

The Skatalites

WOMAD really has a habbit of attracting aging pop musicians, but who are really competent with their instruments. Despite the name the band actually plays a mixture of Ska, Reggae and Rocksteady. Some really nice soloing here. Every year I consider listening to more Jamaican music, but end up getting put off by the pop/dance focussed reggae that seems to have been the overly popular product. Damn you Bob Marley.

7/10

Friday

Victor Deme

Based on writeups I labelled this guy as some what of a wannabe Ali Farka Touré. Impressive soloing, somewhat more traditional compositionally, and I’m sure some of the lyrics would be blatant efforts at catches (what an outrage!) if I understood French. I also listened to his late night saturday set, that was much better – guitarist was showing off more and the audience were into it a bit more.

6.5/10

Cimarron

Fado + Flamenco outfit, nice acoustic sound for the mood I was in at the time, can’t really say they stood out for any reason though.

6/10

Mariem Hassan

Soulful, Bluesey singer from Sahara. Nice, but meh.

6/10

Eliader Ochoa

Former Buena Vista Social Club member, included a few of their songs in his set list. Similar style musically – ought to check out some of his solo stuff.

7/10

Carrivan Palace

How do well sell gypsy Jazz to the younger generation Brain? We do what we do every year Pinky – we put a hot singer on the front and a dj playing incredibly tedious dance beat behind. Crowd were really into it though, and good stae presence.

4/10

Rokia Traore

Does have a good voice, slightly meh otherwise. Allegedly collaboration with the Kronos Quartet, maybe I should listen to that.

6.5/10

The Black Arm Band

Collaboration of Australian musicians presenting a show hilighting aboriginal issues. If Billy Bragg were an australian – he would have been here. I was somewhat disappointed that a lot of the music itself felt very inspired by western protest movements. There were the ballads glorifying the common behaviour of the abused group, we had verses structured as lists of things that had a gone wrong. Pretty basic stuff. But they had a good didgeridoo player, so its all good right? Gave rise to much thought as to whether human rights and poverty issues within third world countries and 1st world countries demanded the same approaches, and the ethic of it all. Heartful performances by all the musicians that really came across live.

7/10

Portico Quartet

Excellent set. Womad used to run a lot of classical music, most notably Indian Sarod and Sitar players, in the evening performance slots – but the change of festival director 2 years ago seems to have purged them from the programme. This is a real tragedy since it used to be a real hilight of the festival for me. This is one of the few late evening slots that I’ve really felt has lived up to that quality of musicianship. The band themselves make a lot out of their use of the hang – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hang_(musical_instrument) – an instrument I’d come across before, but never really seen showcased rather than used occassionally during performances. Here it sets the soundscape and is interspersed with and juxtaposed against some avant-garde jazz sax and bass. I’ll definitely listen to their previous album, and their new one when it comes out in October.

8/10

Saturday

Zambezi Express

Lively show, telling the story of a boy trying to avoid working in a mine by becoming a footballer.

Music itself was pretty boring djembe rythms – 4/10

Dancing and live show was excellent – back flips whilst skipping is quite pro – 8/10

Oumou Sangare

Traditionalist singer. Audience not really into it at the start (it had rained a bit just before the gig) – but she whipped them up a bit and then everything got into full swing. Not really my type of thing but good vocalist. There aren’t enough purely instrumental sets at womad anymore.

6.5/10

Peter Gabriel

Aging rockers always put on good live sets, think its because live sets used to be really important to a Band’s fanbase in the 70s and 80s. I blame MTV for everything. Weirdly Gabriel has now appeared twice in 3 years at WOMAD, previously to celebrate its silver anniversay, and this time round to support his charity .

7/10

Enkh Jargal

Pro mongolian singer and horse fiddle player. Hilarious horse impressions on stage when trying to explain what his instrument’s strings were made from – awesome.

7.5/10

Sunday

Styl’O’Styl

Combination of modern dance and minimalist jazz. Not really my kind of thing, but was an interesting set nonetheless.

6.5/10

Ba Cissoko

Excellent progressive Kora player – really going in different direction to his contemporary Diabate. Occassionally picked up the talking drum during set as well, when he was singing. Good stuff.

7.5/10

Youssou N’Dour

Yeah, and its not the first time I’ve seen him either. Screw you!

Once you get past the pop crap (the sung the chorus to 7 seconds and thats all in this set) – you realise that he’s actually rather a good musician, and he’s surrounded by good musicians. Last time I heard Youssou N’Dour he was playing more traditional, griot oriented stuff – this set was more modern, mblax focussed stuff. He works the audience well to, just a shame it was raining. (Why do idiots bring umbrellas to festivals, rather than ponchos?)

8/10

Roy Ayers

AWESOME. Second time I’ve heard him live. Started off with minimal actual playing (I was unduly worried, though he barely touched the vibes during his opening number) and playing some of dance/funk/pop numbers that he’s famous for, including the obvious irony of ‘everyone loves the sunshire’ whilst it was raining heavily in wiltshire. My Dad and I had been singing the song all afternoon – I was ridiculously up for this gig. The gig then turned into a 20 minute cover of classic jazz standard ‘One night in tunisia’ by Dizzy Gillespie which was basically an excuse for some seriously epic jazz soloing.

9/10


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