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Last Updated: Monday, 26 July, 2004, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Kennedy leads Womad's party
By Martin Vennard
BBC News Online

Nigel Kennedy
Nigel Kennedy was characteristically colourful

There can't be many classical violinists who drink cans of beer and swear during their concerts the way Nigel Kennedy did at the Womad festival of world music on Saturday.

But Kennedy has a reputation to live up to and his performance at Womad in Reading, Berkshire, was more than good enough for the audience to forgive any excesses.

Playing with the Polish group Kroke, he took the audience in the Siam tent on a tour of Eastern European music.

His playing gave new life to the Jewish klezmer, gypsy, Serbian and Romanian numbers that the group have written or adopted.

David Byrne
David Byrne treated Talking Heads fans

The World of Music, Arts and Dance, better known as Womad, was spread over three days and attracted around 20,000 people.

Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne was another musical maverick to perform, headlining on the main stage on Friday night.

His spiky hair may have turned white, but he has lost none of the observational powers that made him one of the most original performers in popular music.

Dressed in a grey boiler suit and accompanied by the Tosca Strings, he went through the Talking Heads hits from Once In A Lifetime to Psycho Killer, as well as playing songs from his solo career.

African stars

Faudel, the young pretender of Franco-Algerian rai, was part of a large contingent with North African links.

His rai comes in French and Arabic, and he also covered Comme d'habitude, the Claude Francois song which gave its tune to My Way.

Other North African stars present included Souad Massi, from Algeria, and Mauritania's Malouma.

Burandi brought the stage to life

No Womad is complete without African percussion music and some of its best exponents were the Drummers of Burundi.

Their red, white and green robes flew like flags as they leapt about the stage.

At one point you could feel their drums beating with the rhythm of your heart.

If anything, Ivory Coast's Yelemba d'Abidjan were even more energetic.

The male drummers, with their white headdresses, resembled parading cockerels and the dancing acted out the movements of animals and combat.

Funk and Latin

The Dhol Foundation showed that it's not only Africans who can drum.

Dhol drums originate from the Punjab, but the UK-based group used them to perform their own version of Riverdance.

Zap Mama
Zap Mama was fronted by Marie Daulne

Anyone who thinks Belgians are boring has obviously never seen Zap Mama.

Marie Daulne's group mixed African, funk and Latin influences to bring Saturday afternoon to life.

Sharon Shannon and Cara Dillon, and their respective bands, represented traditional Irish music.

Among those from the Latin world were Radio Mundial and Caramelo Son, an all-female outfit from Havana. The latter had the misfortune to play on Sunday afternoon as the first rain of the weekend fell.

But their music and smiles soon brought the sun back out and had couples dancing salsa.

Amparanoia proved that modern Spanish music has lost none of its vivacity.

While another highlight of Sunday was the gala performance combining the talents of Israeli's Yair Dalal, with the kora playing of N'Faly Kouyate and Chris Difford's Squeeze hits.


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