Tuesday, August 08, 2006

WOMAD Festival, Reading

4 August 2006

I had a wonderful weekend at the WOMAD Festival. I saw 16 full performances and dipped in and out of many more – seeing a total of 39 bands in 3 days! Loads of fantastic music and a lovely atmosphere as always.

The highlights for me were the beautiful, haunting sound of the Chinese bamboo flute played by Guo Yue, eclectic dance music with a political message from Mexican band Los De Abajo, exquisite Indian classical music from the maestro of the slide-guitar Debashish Bhattacharya and the amazing sound of Mitsoura – electronic dance music combining traditional gypsy music from Hungary and Rajasthan.

But I think my favourite was the great Finnish folk/rock band Värttinä, whose music I have enjoyed for some years – it was fantastic to finally see them live. The three female vocalists produce scrunching harmonies against complex syncopated rhythms in a truly theatrical performance. If, like me, you got a bit bored with rock music and fancy something accessible, catchy but refreshingly different you might like to try Värttinä. I would recommend starting with their 2003 CD ‘iki’ which you will find in the World Music section of most larger music shops – or see www.varttina.com for more details.

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