The concerts started on Indian tones, with performances by Debashish Bhattacharya and O Shakuntala on the South stage of Abu Dhabi Corniche. The sounds of Bhattacharya’s slide guitar, inspired by the thousand-year-old Indian traditions was in direct competition with the whirling beach sand, which kept pushing the audience away.
Things did not get much better for the Spanish Amparo Sanchez, despite her beautiful, soft voice singing from the borders of folk, reggae and Latin songs.
While her concert was rolling out on the North stage, people were gathering in the Trispan tent, where Takht, a new local Emirati band was preparing a surprise performance of a rather unusual instrumental mix — oud, kanoon, saxophone and Emirati drum.
Mayra Andrade’s (Cape Verde) soft, soulful tunes sang in Portuguese language put many in the mood for long distance voyage down the dream lanes to the extent that some even teased the waters — with high waves bearing witness — a bit, closely watched by coast guards, though.
The shops, the tents, the cafes and the lawns beyond the beach seemed far much busier then the front stage arena and the bad weather was not entirely to blame. Young boys and men dressed ‘a la Bob Marley’, carrying the Jamaican flags and banners with his name could hardly believe the news: Marley youngest son, Damian, a famed reggae musician himself, who was supposed to close WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2010, was too sick to make it.
“Is that what he said? Damian Marley is not singing?” asked Laurel, a young British fan who came down to the beach especially for this concert. “Who else is there to listen to?” she also asked while struggling to read the funny names on the programme.
Actually, two very big names followed, one of them being among the most beautiful male voices of Africa – Habib Koite, a singer as famous in his homeland as he is in Europe, who along with his guitar and his band, brought in what seemed to be the ballads of the savannah.
Before the last act, to make up for the missing Damian Marley concert, the organisers sent back on stage the Zawose Family of Tanzania and Rango of Egypt and Sudan, who made young crowds crazier than they did in their original performances in the first two days of the festival.
It was African energy, music, dancing, drumming and costumes at its best! Worthy of closing any concert and any festival anywhere, the last act was as good as the band’s worldwide huge popularity – the Tinariwen of the Sahara desert, joined by Mehdi (Algeria), as well as Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe from the “TV on the Radio” of USA.
Wearing traditional Saharan nomadic “gear”, singing the well known by now songs of the Touareg Bedouin tribes with a groovy, rock twist given by the electric guitars, the Tinariwen made everybody forget it’s 1 am and work will start again in just a few hours. People of all backgrounds – North African, Serbian, British, Arabs, French – and of all ages would have stayed until the early morning to listen, dance and sing along with them! — firstname.lastname@example.org
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