News March 10, 2021

COVID-capped WOMADelaide festival draws 19,000 punters

COVID-capped WOMADelaide festival draws 19,000 punters

WOMADelaide drew a record-breaking 97,000 patrons last year after hitting 90,000 in 2019, and this year – amid a global pandemic – attendance was close to 19,000, organisers have revealed.

In 2021, the event moved from the expansive Botanic Park to the smaller King Rodney Park.

This was the first instance of the return of major SA festivals, and the COVID-safe measures were widely applauded. Unlike in SA nightclubs, dancing was permitted in front of allocated seats.

The bill of established and new acts demonstrated the exhilaration of being back on stage.

Archie Roach, who got a standing ovation as he opened the festival on Friday evening, delivered from his wheelchair nuggets from a 30-year career and which he told the crowd was a farewell performance at WOMADelaide.

He was joined by Emma Donovan, Leah Flanagan and Fred Leone, and peaked with ‘Took The Children Away’.

“It was here I met my wife Ruby (Hunter), and that’s reason enough to love Adelaide,” he told the crowd.

He explained that ‘The Old Days’ was about the “funeral cabarets” the couple attended to help relatives pay to bury their dead.

Midnight Oil’s much-anticipated two hour set – starting with ‘Read About It’ and ending with the singalong ‘Dead Heart’ – was a farewell to their late bassist Bones Hillman.

Tash Sultana, riding high on the excitement of a #1 debut album, showed off her skills on a dozen instruments and dedicated her 90-minute extended jam set to Michael Gudinski.

Vika & Linda’s soulful set also hit a poignant spine-tingling moment with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ with their tearful goodbye to a man whose support gave them a couple of chart toppers.

Of the music highs, singer-songwriter Lior, conductor Nigel Westlake and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra wowed with their 40-minute seven-part song cycle of ancient Hebrew and Arabic texts, Compassion.

Sarah Blasko celebrating the tenth anniversary (well, 12th technically) of her breakthrough album, As Day Follows Night with a change of texture with a jazz trio.

The Oils’ First Nations collaboration Makarrata Live saw them before a Uluru Statement from the Heart backdrop, and joined by Dan Sultan, Alice Skye, Troy Cassar-Daley, Tasman Keith, Leah Flanagan, Frank Yamma and Bunna Lawrie.

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