Pop: Been around the world...

Aboriginal vocalists, Celtic instrumentalists and a Somali wedding tent... All part of the WOMAD festival at the Barbican this weekend
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Indy Lifestyle Online
One of the best aspects to the development of WOMAD over the past 16 years is the way audiences who take the plunge and listen to global sounds do not experience the music passively. Be it a rock gig at Wembley or the Camden Falcon, much "world" music is comforting, with plenty of familiar guitar, drum and bass reference points.

However, the folk who visit the Barbican Centre for the London WOMAD weekend can look forward to two days of Frantic-Music-continent to-ing and fro-ing, pulled by outfits from Madagascar, Greece, Australia and Algeria, among others. The weekend, dubbed "Global Spirit", is just the latest move by the WOMAD enterprise to make cultural internationalism part of the norm in the UK, and this event follows up last December's team-up with the Barbican Centre. As with the August WOMAD festival in Reading, Global Spirit is multi-faceted enough to tantalize the uninitiated and seasoned world-music devotees alike. Top of the bill is jazz giant Nina Simone, putting in a rare appearance and probably attracting the sort of people open to a weekend of musical globe-trotting.

But most of the Barbican Hall concerts will be of rootsy African persuasion, with Waaberie from Somalia, Geoffrey Oryema from Uganda and We Are Alive Kids from South Africa. European flavours are provided by Savina Yannatou from Greece, the Belgium-based, funkily eclectic Zap Mama and the spookoid British Ghostland.

But formal concerts are just part of the story. In the foyer, performing for all-comers, will be a multitude of outfits. Algeria's contribution comes from Amel Tafsout, a dancer/choreographer showing off his skills in the Sahara style of dance called Maghreb. The range of vocalists is startling - from the Aboriginal (Blekbala Mujik) to the Celtic (Shooglenifty). And importantly, there is a host of dance, vocal and children's workshops.

Some of Britain's Somali community will be teaming up with artists from their native land, to help build a wedding hut. What passers-by who see it erected in the foyer of the Barbican will think is anyone's guess. A weekend for those who like surprises.

The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2 (0171-638 8891) 13, 14 Dec

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