Damian Marley didn't show, and it was a tad windy, but did you enjoy it?
Well? How was it for you? Did Womad 2010 live up to the high standards set by Robert Plant and his ilk the previous year, or was Damian Marley's no-show too much to bear?
For us, it was a mixed affair. Throat singers Hanggai didn't quite pack the punch that Dulsori delivered to kickstart the first night of Womad 2009, but the likes of Transglobal Underground and the almighty Tinariwen more than equalled last year's Led Zepp freakout. Other highlights included Habib Koite and Rango's Trispan tent appearance, where Womad's Annie Menter tried her hardest to control a largely Egyptian audience who had no time for her British niceties, wanting only to paint the evening in their national colours and sing along with their beloved countrymen.
Indeed, it was at that moment that the difference between Womad UK and Womad UAE became clear. The perceived middle classness of the original festival, seen by many British festival goers as mildly patronising, is entirely absent in Abu Dhabi. Here, the music of North Africa and the Middle East is celebrated largely by North Africans and Arabs. Rather than being a cultural zoo, this is a desert festival, performed by the people of the desert for the people of the desert, and the emotional response is tangible.
Damian Marley's no-show may have disappointed a few folk here and there (none more so than the organisers themselves, who could be heard muttering ‘he'll never work in this town again' at every turn), but if anything kept the crowd numbers low on the final night it was the 40kph winds whipping along the beach. Not that Tinariwen - a band of Touareg Saharan rebels - cared all that much. These were ideal conditions for them, and they brought the festival to a close as though they owned the place; nomads, right at home.
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David Jay May 04, 2010 12:40 pm
Having attended WOMAD UK for as long as my now grown kids could toddle to the WOMAD NOMAD area, I can't help but disagree with the statement that WOMAD UK is mildly patronising.
While the audience is completely different, it is inevitably more 'into' a variety of music. It is true that the ethnic origin of the performers and the audience is closer, but that does not mean the audience is more attune to the collection of acts. The fact that the festival was free means audiences can select who to see and when to come.
One thing that is great is the fact that Emirate masters and their Indian Labourers may be shoulder to shoulder, one thing that grates is that the curse of this country, the VIP area should be allowed to be a feature of what is and should be, an egalitarian event.
Lumkile Apr 25, 2010 07:12 am
The whole event was spectacular. It is great to witness such a vast range of musical talent, style, and expression in one venue. The organisation and coordination of the different performances was seamless, the audience didn't have to wait long between sets and the sound quality was phenomenal.
My one disappointment was that Damian Marley didn't pitch. Whatever his reasons were, there were a lot of disappointed fans (there was a large number of people with Bob Marley, Rasta paraphernalia), and I hope he will be able to make it to the region in the near future to make up for his absence.
All in all one of the greatest cultural experiences I have ever had in the UAE, please let us have more of these kinds of artists and events.