Festival review: Womad, Charlton Park, Malmesbury
Monday 29 July 2013
With its six main stages and rolling programme from midday till after midnight, it’s inevitable that FOMO sets in as you try to sample a full taste of the world unfurling its colours at Charlton Park. This year wasn’t the greatest line-up, but it’s easy to pick out the hot and chilled over the merely warmed over.
Despite Noah-like forecasts of storm and deluge, conditions until late Saturday were outstanding. Then the heavens opened, pools of mud rose up through the dry compacted ground like some Lovecraftian horror in clay, then subsided with Sunday’s sun and bracing winds.
The BBC’s Radio Three stage is one of smallest but tastiest, set amidst the trees of the Arboretum, with its masseurs, healers, Gong Baths. At night, it’s spectacularly lit up, and in the heat, provides welcome shade. Here, brilliant young trio Barrule ignited the folk tunes of the Isle of Man, while British-Indian sitar player Roopa Panesar and her band were also outstanding, DaWangGang intriguingly fused traditional Chinese instruments with slide-guitar quotes from In My Time of Dying, and there was a sporadically brilliant set from Brazil’s Lucas Santa, who has a unique touch for ringing, chiming guitar.
Santa was one of a contingent of Brazilians, including Sunday night’s headliner Gilberto Gil, as cool and consummate as ever, and young star Flavia Coelho on that same Open Air Stage on Saturday lunchtime. This is Womad’s largest arena, where Seun Kuti led his father’s Egypt 88 band through a familiar but brilliantly energetic Friday night set. “This is not African jazz,” he declared. “This is not traditional music. This is not African soul. This is original African music.”
The same could be said for the Malian art music of Saturday’s main-stage headliner, Rokia Traore, who opened with brooding, snaking bass-driven and low, dramatic vocals. Seventies veterans Osibisa preceded her, while Zimbabwe’s Mokoomba scored lengthy rhythmic workouts with some superb lead guitar on Sunday afternoon.
Womad is as much about new artists as it is headliners. In the Siam Tent, Sam Lee’s Womad debut (following an inspiring talk on song collecting at the World Rhythms tent), came after the more belated debut of Canzoniere Grencanico Salentina, a veteran band from the heel of Italy’s boot. On the same stage, you could find Tuva’s throat-singing giants Hun Huur Tu, Poland’s Kroke with Mongolian singer Urna, or Romania’s Fanfare Ciocarlia slaying the crowd, while Charlie Gillette Stage hosted a supernaturally brilliant Iranian percussionist, so jaw-droppingly good that even the soundcheck drew astonished applause. Mohammed Reza Mortavasi, this one’s for you.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3, review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton - really?
The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove