Cyclic Selects: Womadelaide 2023


We’re now just over a month from Womadelaide, and it’s difficult not to get a little bit excited about the prospect of another 4 days and nights traipsing barefoot around Adelaide’s Botanical Gardens and experiencing some of the best music in the world. With 7 stages you can pretty much plot your own festival and despite your best laid plans you often find yourself somewhere unexpected having your mind blown by something that exists far outside your experience. Between workshops, live performances, cooking demonstrations and lectures and discussions about the state of the planet, there’s something for everyone. Here’s what’s catching our eye.

Sister Nancy Meets Legal Shot
This is pretty special, a 60 year old Sister Nancy, one of the first female dancehall DJ’s, the voice behind the iconic Bam Bam is joined by French sound system Legal Shot. This is one of those performances you never expected to experience.

Taraf de Caliu
The founding members of the Romany supergroup Taraf de Haïdouks, from Clejani in Romania, are the last generation of lăutari (folk musicians) performing authentic traditional music from the region. We’re big fans of the joyous frenetisicism of Taraf de Haïdouks so we’re pretty keen to check out their new band. Loving the facial expressions in this clip.

Mdou Moctar
We first saw Mdou Moctar play in the UK in 2014 (you can read our review here), since then he’s made two films, released a bunch of records such as Ilana the Creator and Sousoume Tamachek, signed to Matador Records and played shows in countless countries. This is incredible high electric energy Tuareg music. Desert blues from Niger.

Nightmares on Wax
A maestro of smooth funky grooves, Nightmares on Wax has forged a career on melding trip hop, blunted beats and funky soul. You can check out our review of his 2008 album Thought So here. His DJ sets follow a similar trajectory. Imagine what it will be like with bats squealing overhead?

Mindy Meng Wang and Tim Shiel
Mindy Meng Wang is a Chinese born composer and guzheng master, whilst Melbourne’s Tim Shiel is an electronic producer and double J radio host. Initially it seems like an unlikely collaboration, yet their improvisations take both into unexpected new realms. Live they’re joined by bass and drums adding more structure for the duo to use as a launching pad. It’s such as fascinating and unique amalgamation of worlds. Mindy is also doing a solo show which will no doubt focus on her impressive improvisational skills.

Rizwan Muazzam Qawwals
There are certain unspoken rules at Womadelaide. One is always see the Qawwali. Nephews of the legendary Qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the Pakastani brothers Rizwan and Muazzam carry on this incredible tradition. There is so much drama inherent in every performance. With soaring vocals and handlcaps, accompanied by tabla and harmonium these performances are not to be missed.

Kronos Quartet
Well there’s not much you can say about this San Franciscan string quartet they’ve pretty much played with everyone and done everything. This boundary pushing ensemble who have worked with everyone from Faith No More to Taraf de Haïdouks will be celebrating their 50th anniversary at Womadelaide.

Gratte Ciel
France’s high altitude theatrical ensemble will return to Womadelaide for a repeat of their Place des Anges performance. If you weren’t there, high above the stages mysterious angels fly through the air engaged in all manner of acrobatic moves before dumping tonnes of feathers over the audience below. Sound interesting? It’s something purely magical and worth the price of admission alone.

Julian Belbachir
Probably best known as drummer for Australian Indigenous Dub band Oka, Julian Belbachir has travelled West Africa in Guinea, Senegal and Morocco, studying with some of Africa’s most respected masters. His ensemble is made up of a collective of musicians of Saharan and sub-Saharan ethnic backgrounds and judging from the clip above their music is nothing short of sublime.

Bangarra Dance Theatre
Probably the other notable rule you must obey at Womadelaide is always check out the theatre. This year the Bangarra Dance Theatre a group of professional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s have returned after 24 years to perform Terrain, an exploration of Australia’s largest salt lake, Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre).

Womadelaide is on 10th – 13th of March 2023. You can find out more here.


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.