Last Night: Womad, Charlton Park, Wiltshire


Flamenco adds flavour while the Congolese get crowds grooving

The honeyed, mellifluous tones of Gil Scott-Heron provided the perfect finale to the 28th Womad Festival in Wiltshire. Despite a bit of a dig to any journalists about his perceived 'disappearance' (come on Gil, you haven't released an album since 1994) this was a vintage performance from the man without whom rap would never have been invented.

Sat at his electric piano, Baker boy cap at a jaunty angle, and bathed in a pink spotlight, the 61-year-old had the audience in the palm of his hand from the offset. It was a captivating performance that saw the maestro cherry pick from his huge back catalogue and had the entire field straining to savour each and every word.

Earlier Afro Celt Sound System tore up the Siam Tent with their cross-cultural mash up of world music – the perfect band to sum up what Womad is about. At one point a kora player, dhol drummer, talking drum maestro and bodhran player jammed over squelchy acid keyboards and a breakbeat. Awesome stuff – and amazing to witness live. On CD it's hard to apprecciate that everything is live, not Mac trickery.

Another highlight of the weekend was the ridiculously talented Javier Conde who played the Charlie Gillett stage (dedicated to the great broadcaster, journalist and world music enthusiast who died earlier this year) to a rapt crowd.

Although only 21 the guitarist quite clearly has flamenco coursing through his veins, and his mastery of the instrument is enough to make grown men who've spent a lifetime trying to master a handful of chords weep into their real ale. Conde played a couple of songs on his own before first inviting his father to come and join him, and then a percussionist and bass guitar player. It was stirring, inspiring stuff and proof that flamenco has a bright future ahead.

Saturday saw the magnificent Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali, fronted by brothers Rizwan and Muazzam, nephews of the late, great Qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan captivate a rapt crowd at delightful, tree-lined BBC Radio 3 Stage. At the end of the set the crowd, who had largely stayed seated throughout the show, rose to their feet en masse for a well-earned standing ovation. The soaring, devotional songs lift the soul, whatever your spiritual inclination.

Ozomatli closed the opening night on the Open Air stage with their infectious blend of hip-hop, salsa and rock. The band attracted a huge crowd 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.

In the afternoon the legendary Horace Andy treated the crowds to classic roots reggae while Afrobeat legend and Damon Albarn collaborator, Tony Allen served up another outstanding set. But despite the presence of such renowned royalty, the biggest buzz for me had to be the outstanding Staff Benda Bilili. The Congolese group, whose star is most definitely in the ascendancy, certainly lived up to all the hype. Their music speaks volumes. It's impossible to stand still to their set and by the final track the whole crowd were one mass of beaming smiles and grooving limbs.

This was my first year at Charlton Park – it certainly won't be my last.

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power