First Night, Womad, Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire

4.00

Womad's world of music proves hard to beat

LA's finest, Ozomatli, brought the opening night of Womad 2010 to a close with their infectious blend of hip-hop, salsa and rock. The band attracted the biggest crowd of the Womad festival so far with their party vibes sparking a fitting hands-in-the-air, pogoing finale to a Friday that showcased the best that world music has to offer.

Earlier the crowds were treated to roots reggae from the legendary Horace Andy and another stunning set from the lord of Afrobeat, Tony Allen. But the biggest buzz had to be the outstanding Staff Benda Bilili. The Congolese group, whose star is rising, lived up to all the hype. If you hadn't heard their heart-warming back story – aged guitar-pickers struck down by polio meet street-kid musicians and create uplifting funk-flavoured African groove – it didn't matter. Their music speaks volumes. It's impossible to stand still to their set and by the final song the crowd was one mass of beaming smiles and raving limbs. And the young guy who played his own guitar-type instrument fashioned out of a tin can and a strand of electrical cable was truly stunning. It is only fitting that they were presented with the Songlines award for "best band of the year" before their encore.

The Drummers of Burundi opened the Open Air Stage at 1pm. The 12 musicians, sporting identical red and green outfits, strode on to the stage with their huge drums atop their heads. Their leader twirled a spear and leapt gazelle-like across the stage. And the sound? I've never heard massed drums quite like this. Earlier I'd stumbled across a drum workshop where novices and pros alike slapped the skins and traded beats. But the noise that 20 drums produced in a workshop, even from just a foot away, is nothing compared to the full-on, solid wall of sound that The Drummers of Burundi produce. It made the hairs stand on end. They played the first Womad 28 years ago and judging by this performance, it won't be another 28 years before they return.

The beauty of Womad is that you can hear music from all four corners of the world in an afternoon. Take the wonderfully named Calypso Rose. The 70-year-old Tobagan singer, writer of over 800 calypso songs, has beaten cancer twice. Her saucy between-song patter, superb voice and showmanship belied her years. Backed by a quintet young enough to be her grandchildren, McArtha Linda Sandy-Lewis (as her family know her) brought a sexy slice of the Caribbean to Charlton Park.

But the highlight of the first afternoon was Toumast. As a fan of the Touareg band Tinariwen, I half-expected a carbon copy slice of desert blues. But lead guitarist and main man Moussa Ag Keyna and singer-guitarist Aminatou Goumar take call-and-reponse-tradition-meets-Western-guitar to another level. Funky bass, solid drums and hypnotic percussion, allied to Ag Keyna's mastery of the six-string, lift them above their contemporaries. The swirling, building sound, blended with Goumar's striking ululations, makes for an unforgettable set. Keyna says in broken English that he once shouldered a Kalashnikov but now uses his guitar to fight for peace, which delights their new fans. The last song sees most of the crowd hollering for more. Toumast deserve a wider audience.

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea