WOMADelaide 2020: Day One Wrap Up

WHAT: WOMADelaide Festival & Adelaide Festival
WHERE: Botanic Park
WHEN: 6-9 March 2020 – tickets here

WOMADelaide is back, with a whole new roster of dance, music, art, and food to enjoy. Here’s what we enjoyed from Day One!

Welcome to Country

Botanic Park is decked out in the usual explosion of colour, with the signature #womad flags bedecking the Hackney Road entrance. With gates opening on Friday from 4pm, the crowd swelled in time for the Welcome to Country from Jamie Goldsmith and the dance group Taikurtinna (meaning ‘family’ in Kaurna language). Goldsmith talked about how he and his father had been coming to this meeting place ‘for about 200 years’ – a fitting reminder of the thousands of generations who have been meeting here before colonisation. Goldsmith is leading multiple workshops on Monday at the KidZone called Uncle Stevie’s Kaurna Classroom – check them out!

Rather than have to brave the tremendous queues that were sure to form, we grabbed our yearly Byron Bay Organic Doughnut, in what is essentially a WOMAD tradition. Please enjoy the short photoshoot I did with my chocolate filled doughnut (ft. background bevvie).

The Blind Boys of Alabama

In a rather laid back start to the weekend (remember, WOMAD is a marathon, not a sprint), The Blind Boys of Alabama opened the Foundation Stage. The group has been performing for over seventy years, with a rotating groups of members, majority of whom are visually impaired. The Blind Boys acknowledged their long, long history, starting their set almost a capella, just as they sounded in the 1940s, before introducing more and more instruments. You probably know The Blind Boys from their cover of the Tom Waits’ song Way Down In the Hole which was used for the opening credits for The Wire (which was an absolute thrill to hear live). It was a super chilled and lively performance, and it is incredible to see gospel and soul legends like The Blind Boys live. They’re playing again Saturday on Stage 2.

Kate Miller-Heidke

After a bit more wandering, we caught Kate Miller-Heidke on Stage 2. Miller-Heidke has been an Australian pop legend for a while now, but hit it big last year when she repped Australia at Eurovision 2019 with ‘Zero Gravity.‘ Classically trained with a quirky pop sensibility, Miller-Heidke has both an angelic voice and presence. Look, actual angel.

The crowd was mind-bogglingly big: big enough that she probably could’ve been on Foundation Stage. It stretched further back than I could see from on the barrier. Although Miller-Heidke herself claimed that her music isn’t the easiest to dance to, the crowd was having a great time, bopping and singing along. At one point the Company Archibald Caramantran 4-metre-high puppets danced their way through the crowd. Just an absolutely joyous experience.


After eating too many Parwana dumplings, we caught the end of B.Dance‘s Floating Flowers. The crowd was completely jammed at this seated show, but we luckily could see perfectly on the screens behind the lighting booth for each stage. A beautiful and ethereal performance, B.Dance are performing all weekend, as well as running some Contemporary Tai Chi workshops for when you want to reconnect and find some peace.

The Cat Empire

Finally, perennial WOMAD favourites, Cat Empire, closed the night at Foundation Stage. This is the fifth WOMAD appearance for the Cats, and (to circle back around), they really are WOMAD family. Their performance was so warm and welcoming and happy, just like their music, that the literal thousands of people in the audience were all up and dancing. Boogie-ing along with everyone to some happy, funky tunes – the real WOMAD spirit.

What a start to the long weekend! Catch the rest of our WOMAD coverage over the next few days!

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