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March 24, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Womad Review

With 400 artists across six stages, there was something at this year’s WOMAD for everyone. Highlights included the much anticipated Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (USA). Dressed in 60s suits and skinny ties, the Dap-Kings opened the set with a fast-paced funk instrumental, leaving the crowd shouting out for the “Queen of Funk” Sharon Jones.

Once on stage, Jones paraded around with energy and style, repeatedly welcoming guests on the stage to dance and perform with her. Jones worked her way through the band’s selection of three albums, focusing mainly on the 2007 released 100 Days, 100 nights. The short one-hour set was just a taste of how much energy and excellence Jones and the Dap-Kings possess.

Gospel singer Mavis Staples (USA) bought to the stage some of gospel’s standards such as Wade in the River and For What its Worth. Staples was backed by talented singers, one guy in particular with whom she shared call and response with. She had the crowd interested in her musical background, and the masses of people sitting on the surrounding banks were singing along to her tunes. Staples defiantly lives up to the reputation she has earned as a legend in soul and gospel music.

Beirut’s Zach Condon (USA/France) performed a folk-like set with his touring 8 piece band. Throughout the performance they were constantly swapping brass and reed instruments to replicate the mini orchestral feel heard on The Flying Club Cup album.

To top off Saturday night the Toumani Diabates Symmetric Orchestra (Mali) put on a highly rhythmical and unique performance. The incorporation of an unusual 21 string West African harp with several traditional percussive instruments was a great way to modernise their musical tradition while still honouring it.

New Zealand was represented well by The Pheonix Foundation, Kora, The Village of Idiots, The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, SJD and Whangara-Mai- Tawhiti, each outfit bringing something interesting and different to the stage. The “Gala” man all-star ensemble of festival musicians led by the legendary Don McGlashan drew the event to a close on Sunday.

A weekend of epic weather, stunning music and awesome crowds made the mish up to New Plymouth for WOMAD well worth it.

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