Womad Festival: Charlton Park, Wiltshire

Red Baraat

There’s something very special about WOMAD.

A spirit, an enthusiasm, the genuine enjoyment of the crowd coupled with a very personal immersion into such a powerfully crafted event. All factors that at any other festival could be destroyed by two conjoined forces: children and rain.

Thankfully WOMAD rose to the challenge and made the combination of both an adventure. The attention to detail for everyone on site, regardless of their size, or musical knowledge is overwhelming. From the children’s field, which excels in creativity and independence through music, craft and circus arts, showcased by the site-wide parade on Sunday afternoon, to the corner hiding the piano and percussion booth that had to be visited by these reviewers on every passing, are all details which won out over the varying textures of mud available for inspection throughout the weekend.

So, weather and young festival-goers aside, as always, it all came down to the music, and 2015 did not disappoint.

As well as fulfilling the expectations of WOMAD veterans, with the classics and the legends; De la Soul, Atomic Bomb! the music of William Onyeabor and Don Lets – all provided the special touch expected of them, while The Big Red Tent and the new Bowers & Wilkins Sound system provided a perfect platform for some fantastic new(er) talent.

Red Baraat, who performed three sets over the weekend, blew the roof off the Big Red Tent on Saturday. A 16 piece line up of drums and horns styled by dhol, hip-hop and fierce beats, led by Sunny Jain, hyped the crowd up and delivered a one of the most powerful sets of the weekend.

The return of the Mahotella Queens was particularly special – their vocal harmonies resonating across the back of the site far beyond the reaches of the Siam tent, meant crowds flocked in as their set continued.

Closer to home, The Staves and The Lake Poets represented Britain in this festival of global talent and held their own. Martin Longstaff’s teacherly Sunderland humour captivated the crowd, whilst the Staveley-Taylors proved popular with the many parent-teen combos witnessed on site.

The highlight of the youth review contingent of Counterfeit’s team at WOMAD, aside from all the additional extras, was undoubtedly Daddy G & MC Deemas J who blitzed the Big Red Tent on Saturday night. Effortlessly turning a slightly soggy Wiltshire field into an 80’s Bristolian den of fierce, passionate and addictive vibes that captivated all around.

Added into the mix was an acoustically stunning set from Ghostpoet on the Sunday – another Brit representing with aplomb. It’s fair to say, with a strong showing from both home and abroad, and despite the very British approach to the elements, WOMAD remains firmly at the top of the summer festival table for anyone wanting to experience a genuine, refreshing and truly vibrant musical experience. In every corner a new sound can be stumbled over, bagged and claimed as a new discovery, or a faithful old friend. Something very unique in an over-saturated market.