Despite the difficulties brought on by the recent issues of travel through European airspace, WOMAD Abu Dhabi made a spectacular return to the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
The first night of WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2010 began in style with an explosive fireworks display over the waters of the Arabian Gulf. As the last of the fireworks dropped to the water the Corniche was stirred by the thunderous sound of the Drummers of Burundi echoing across the beach as they performed an energetic set filled with infectious tribal beats and incredible acrobatic leaps across the stage.
This was followed by an energy filled, stunningly choreographed performance from Tanzanian group the Zawose Family and children from the WOMAD Beyond workshops, that have been going on in schools and universities in Abu Dhabi in the weeks leading up to the festival.
The music then moved to the South Stage where the deep booming bass vocals of Haggai from China echoed across Corniche as they performed a spectacular set of rock music fused with the gentle harmonies of traditional folk songs from the Mongolian grasslands, rounding off their incredible set with a rousing finale.
Back on the North Stage, Palestinian Oud musicians, Le Trio Joubran, from Palestine performed their stunning mix of subtle hypnotic rhythms, which led perfectly into Titi Robin from France and Pakistani Faiz Ali Faiz, who joined forces for a wonderful spiritual collaboration.
The tempo of the festival exploded when French group Babylon Circus came onstage to lead the audience on an exciting musical journey through a wonder-filled world of Gallic melodies in a frenzy of wild energy, onstage antics and humorous interludes. Nigerian, Femi Kuti, then introduced the audience to his jazzy Afro Beat, accompanied by a trio of highly energetic dancers.
Whilst the majority of the huge crowds were being entertained by the music on the stages, thousands went to the Trispan and Saddleback tents to join in the children’s and family workshops, which included Sudanese musical collective Rango, introducing the crowd to the food of their Sudan desert homeland and Spanish dancer Amarita Vargas, who led the audience through the techniques of snapping figures, clicking castanets and stamping feet that is flamenco.
Day one of the festival on the Abu Dhabi Corniche was rounded off in spectacular style as a sea of raised hands welcomed Egyptian superstar Hakim onto the stage. Every song sent the enthusiastic crowd deeper and deeper into an excited fervor as he spread his infectious enthusiasm throughout the 35,000 strong audience, finishing with a rousing finale that led listeners through a range of emotions.
Meanwhile, in Al Ain, over 3,000 people enjoyed the traditional San music of the !Gubi Family as they introduced the crowd to the tribal ceremonial music and dances of their Namibian desert home. This was followed by the Persian beats of Iranian/French ensemble Chemirani’s as they built an enthralling atmosphere, enhanced by the beautiful historic setting of Al Jahili Fort.
Debashish Bhattacharya presenting O Shakuntala continued the audience’s dazzling journey through world music with his Indian slide guitar rhythms, followed by the UAE’s very own ABRI, performing their powerful blend of soul, jazz and R&B. The evening of performances in Al Ain was brought to a close with the unique singing and beautifully cadenced rhythms of Mali’s Habib Koité as he performed songs that spoke of the challenges facing the African continent.
Both ADACH and WOMAD are looking forward to another night of exciting performances and unique collaborations again this evening on both the Corniche and in Al Ain.
For more information visit: www.womadabudhabi.ae.