You’ve been to WOMAD, right. You know all about the £140 it costs, the effort involved in hauling all your gear into the campsite, the tiredness you feel after being on your feet for 15 hours each day, the rush to get from the Radio 3 stage to the Siam tent before the next band starts, standing in the rain at the main stage.
But it’s always worth it, somehow, ’cause you come away besotted by some act you’d never heard of before you went – Darkhabrahka anyone? Or Dub Collossus? Or Anda Union? ‘Nuff said.
But wait a minute. There is an easier way to get to those kind of pay-offs. WOMEX is not so much WOMAD-lite as WOMAD-concentrated.
I won a pair of tickets in a competition to go to the 3 nights in Cardiff last week (born lucky, that’s me) and went along not knowing quite what to expect. What I found was shorter sets admittedly (45 mins) but that was more than made up for by merely having to turn 90 degrees to get from one stage to another (OK, sometimes I had to walk 50 yards). And I could get to the bar. And the loo. And have a coffee. And stay dry. And sit down if I wanted. In soft seats. And sleep in a proper bed.
This may sound like World Music for softies, but believe me it felt just as good as the real thing – with the added bonus of not needing a holiday at the end of it and having rubbed shoulders with endless music biz insiders and successfully pretended to be one of them.
Oh, and this year’s WOMEX sensations? Fanfara Tirana meets Transglobal Underground from Albania were great fun. Lau were really nice (though invisible ’cause they sat down!). Filastine & Nova were fascinatingly multi-media and had something to say. And my jaw is still aching from when it hit the floor 4 bars into the set from Korea’s Jambinai. Watch out for them all next year.
So, I’ll still go through the pain of going to WOMAD next summer, confident that it’ll still be worth it. But maybe I’ll give WOMEX a try next autumn? It’s in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. It’s not as nice as Cardiff, admittedly – what could be? – but I’m already plotting a trip. And entering more competitions!