With the 2004 Eden Sessions happening on the 27th August (details at the bottom of the page), we revisit this review from last year… All around Womad style prayer flags breeze softly in the wind, whilst strange sculptures surprise you at every turn. It’s the perfect venue for Womad, and in terms of location it beats Reading hands down.
Built deep in the bowl of an old quarry site near St. Austell, the Eden Project is a remarkable sight. The two space-age domes dominate the scenery as you look down from the entrance hall. If Doctor Who had a bigger budget this is where the Cybermen would have lived. What was once a grey ode to man’s destructive nature is now a heavily landscaped area showcasing the infinite wonder of bio-diversity.
The main arena is a perfect amphitheatre, with enough room for the 4000 punters to skip around like deranged monkeys
All around Womad style prayer flags breeze softly in the wind, whilst strange sculptures surprise you at every turn. It’s the perfect venue for Womad, and in terms of location it beats Reading hands down.
In a similar way to the Big Chill, Womad make the very best use of their surroundings. Activities take place all over the place, from the opening thunder of the Dhol Foundation in the educational sector, to the cafe space where DJ Pathaan and One Giant Leap’s Duncan Bridgeman spin cool world chillout flavours. The main arena is a perfect amphitheatre, with enough room for the 4000 punters to lounge on banks or skip around like deranged monkeys to the sounds of Mexican Madness collective Los De Abajo. Some bands even perform in the Domes themselves, but in the case of the Dhol Foundation they only last fifteen minutes in the stifling humidity of the Tropical Dome.
Just outside the main café a small stage has been set up. The only band I catch here is a local Cornish rock band fronted by an attractive girl in fetching green velvet. Unfortunately this is the only redeeming feature of their set. On the main stage Brazilian singer/songwriter Chico Cesar is due to play his particular brand of rather uninspiring tropical pop, which had the crowd shoe gazing at Womad’s Rivermead festival in late July. Suffice to say that vegetable paella calls to me at this point.
The headline act of the night is the Afro-Celts. One suspects that a majority of the crowd are here to see them, and as the bands UK appearances are all too rare these days, it’s a special treat for many fans. The band is without singer Iarla O Lionaird who was taken ill after a particularly vigorous American tour, but the rest of the band are in attendance, along with a new drummer, bass player, and fiddler. The Afro’s do not disappoint with a thoroughly polished performance of old favourites and brand new nuggets from their recent album ‘Seed’ and forthcoming remix project. Highlights include a storming reinterpretation of ‘Whirl-y-reel’, and high velocity crowd pleaser ‘Colossus’. When the compare introduces the band she suggests that the band have completely redesigned their image. Luckily this is not the case in terms of energy and their trademark Celtic-African breakbeat sound, but there is certainly an assured maturity about their performance tonight.
One hopes that the Eden Project Sessions will continue for Womad, because this mini festival is a wonderful treat for all the senses.