World Music Awards, The Sage, Gateshead

Electric meets acoustic on an evening of eclectic acts
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The Independent Culture

That the 2005 World Music Awards were held at the newly opened Sage is apt in a year that has seen broadening horizons for music that has long outlived its label. This is simply international music, sometimes heavily electrified, other times acoustic and traditional. Both ends of the scale were represented on Saturday.

That the 2005 World Music Awards were held at the newly opened Sage is apt in a year that has seen broadening horizons for music that has long outlived its label. This is simply international music, sometimes heavily electrified, other times acoustic and traditional. Both ends of the scale were represented on Saturday.

The seven acts have two songs each to grab the audience, and Tinariwen, the Tuareg guitarists who began the Festival of the Desert on the first new moon of the millennium, are first on, as winners of the Africa category. Despite a lights malfunction, they deliver two songs from their album Amassakoul with all the superb brio of a band that has spent a long time on the road. To see a man who, as a six-year-old, saw his father shot come up to receive an award in a £70m arts centre is an indication of how far their music has travelled.

The Northumbrian piper Katherine Tickell presents the Asia-Pacific Award to the 24-year-old Indian singer Kaushiki Chakrabarty, a prodigy who could sing before she spoke. Hers is a voice that roams an internal landscape, unifying the sounds of ecstasy and pain.

The wilder, Latinate drive of Mestizo music comes from the Granada-born singer Ampora Sanchez and her band cum collective, Amparanoia. Brass, guitars and percussive beats dominate with a great international pop song that seems to change costume from chorus to verse. Her second number is tinged by the melancholy harmonies of a Mexican trio, her distinctive voice poised between the parallel melodramas of flamenco, blues and soul.

Another powerful 21st century hybrid of international music is Lhasa, a Canadian who wins the Americas award. With her heart-tugging voice, she switches easily from Spanish torch song to English ballad.

As winner of the newcomer category, the Argentine accordionist Chango Spasiuk delivers a fantastic set, with a guest appearance from the co-host Eliza Carthy, who sings in Spanish and throws in a typically muscular rhythmic violin.

The audience award goes to Ivo Papasov, a supernatural genius on the clarinet. He plays unaccompanied for a few minutes and blows everybody's minds.

And the last award of the evening, for Mid East and north Africa, goes to Khaled and his orchestra of brass, guitars, oud, keyboards, drum battery and synths. It's a massive sound for a massive star, with "Rai" mashing the world together with its intricate - and cheesy - high-powered pop.

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