Finn McLennan-Elliott: WOMAD returns with a phenomenal lineup

WOMAD never ceases to amaze. Presenting a collection of music from literally everywhere in the world, this ‘World of Music, Arts and Dance’ is exactly that.

WOMAD takes over the beautiful and awe-inspiring Brooklands Park in New Plymouth, that features the TSB Bowl of Brooklands – surely one of the best locations for a concert in the world. Eight stages are dotted throughout the park, with workshop spaces, libraries, chill zones, bars and a craft market. It is a paradise of colour and wonder for three days.

We haven’t even begun to talk about this year’s lineup. Right at the top of this is Laura Marling, making a one-off performance on Saturday. Over the course of six albums, Laura Marling has proven to be a leading voice in modern folk music. From bursts of powerful guitar to haunting melodies and elegant lyrics, she returns to New Zealand for the first time since 2015.

The highly anticipated reggae icon Ziggy Marley will be performing once on Friday night, as will jazz, soul, funk fusion group Hiatus Kaiyote. The call to stand together in activism through love rings out loud and clear from eight-time Grammy Award-winning musician and reggae icon, Ziggy Marley. Following in the tradition and legacy that his father began, he’s finding his own path, and doing it in a positive and peaceful style.

One of the most sampled bands in the world, artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper are finding inspiration from Hiatus Kaiyote; a beguiling outfit that stretches kaleidoscopic sounds into Grammy-nominated masterpieces. Jazz, soul, funk, fusion, hip hop and electronica are the band’s predominant building blocks but the resultant sonic shapes blur the edges and defy the pigeonhole.

One of the special things about WOMAD is that most artists perform multiple times, meaning you have a high chance of seeing everyone who is performing if you work hard enough.

WOMAD welcomes double performances from the living legends of gospel, The Blind Boys Of Alabama. The group that has performed to three different Presidents in the White House, collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Amadou & Mariam and presents a soulful and uplifting repertoire with one of the hottest bands on the circuit. Their 75-year career brings them to New Plymouth for what is sure to be a performance to remember.

Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita have been given the illustrious title of ‘most popular world music act of the decade’. Their collaboration of harp and kora is second to none with its originality and energy. Their newest record SOAR saw them take away ‘Best Fusion Album’ at the Songlines Music Awards in 2019, they graced the stage of Cambridge Folk Festival and now make their way to New Zealand. Catrin is Welsh, Seckou is Senegalese, and together they have created something that transcends music.

Representing Aotearoa, Albi & the Wolves, Reb Fountain, Soaked Oats, and Troy Kingi are all scheduled for repeat performances over the three days and The Black Quartet are set to play twice, once in a highlight performance with Trio Da Kali (Mali).

WOMAD New Zealand is famous for bringing together artists from all over the globe for a vibrant showcase of the world’s many forms of music, arts and dance. The 2020 festival is no exception and will feature close to 100 hours of music, dance and voices across eight stages.

28 cutting-edge performers and world-class musicians from every corner of the planet, delivering fresh new takes on traditional music. And, come March 2020, multi-award-winning, solo artists, duos, trios and 12-piece brass bands from around the globe will come together to perform at WOMAD New Zealand. (Finn McLennan-Elliott)

For tickets, schedules and more information

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