The message of being true to yourself and navigating your journey through life was key to this year’s WOMADelaide Festival. King Rodney Park/Ityamai-itpina saw artists speaking their truth and sharing their personal experiences to audiences in an energised and vibrant atmosphere.
Words: River Harley
Images: Wade Whitington, Stuart Trutwin
MRLN x RKM, Vika & Linda, Midnight Oil, Saturday March 6, 2021
MRLN x RKM
Born in Darwin, Marlon is of Larrakia, Kungarrakany and Thursday Island culture and RKM is of Tulampunga Pakana heritage. These unique storytellers mixed rap with their soulful voices to showcase their songs backed by a four-piece guitar and bass band.
Vibing Out was a crowd pleaser, while powerful lyrics linked to the Black Lives Matter movement made the audience pause and reflect on how current events have unfolded. First Nations heritage was highlighted in the song Black Swan, where they emphasised being proud of where you are from, no matter what.
In their words, their connection goes deeper than music; they are “brothers for life”. Keep an ear out for these rising stars as they are sure to continue to make their mark on the music industry.
VIKA & LINDA
Delving again into heritage and personal journeys were Vika and Linda Bull. Their powerful ballads included stories of their Tongan history, sung in styles of blues, R&B, gospel, reggae and soul.
Eighteen years on from the release of their first album, the Melbourne sisters were given a warm reception as the sun began to set upon the stage. Belting out their lyrics to Strange Things Happening Every Day, which was written during lockdown, it was clear how well the siblings’ voices complement each other.
The audience was most enthusiastic about Raise Your Hand, written by Kasey Chambers, as they danced under the night sky, while the poignant Grandpa’s Song, written as an apology for the shame they once felt about their heritage, left many with tears in their eyes. The duo finished their set with an emotionally charged rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.
The audience gathered in awe of frontman Peter Garrett as soon as the lights went down, ready for the performance of Aussie rock ‘n’ roll favourites Midnight Oil. For two hours the band treated the crowd to many of their iconic tracks touching on political aspects, which inspired fans and ignited passions.
The band kicked off their epic set with Read About It, as devotees jumped to their feet to dance. Other hits included Blue Sky Mine and US Forces. Garrett’s stage presence was a sight to behold together with his individual repartee. A fitting tribute was made to late bassist Bones Hillman who passed away last year, together with a warm welcome to Adam Ventoura.
Having achieved global success with numerous accolades spanning over 40 years, Midnight Oil have announced the release of a new album in 2021, which is not to be missed.
Miiesha, Kaiit, Tash Sultana, Sunday March 7, 2021 @ King Rodney Park
The talented 21-year-old from Central Queensland and the Woorabinda community oozed vulnerability and humility as she opened the Sunday night show. The audience were immediately struck by her velvety tones and ability to share stories of her journey through damaged relationships and the strength to prevail. Her aim to educate and inspire others was evidenced in numbers like Drowning and Black Privilege.
Meiisha was accompanied by keyboards, drums and two gifted vocalists, sharing tracks from her critically acclaimed debut Nyarringu (released in May last year and shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize), as well as several tracks yet to be released. Broken Tongues (from Nyarringu) was a particular standout – it’s a song in three parts, in which Miiesha details feeling unable to express her opinions, moving on to believing that she had a voice, and finally the realisation that her ancestors fought for the right for her voice be heard.
It’s of no surprise that Meiisha has had nominations for three National Indigenous Music Awards and took away the title of ‘Best New Talent’. The artist has undoubtedly picked up new followers who will be checking out her debut and eagerly awaiting new music.
With her knockout voice singing contemporary soul, Papua New Guinean Kaiit created an electric atmosphere, with the audience whooping in support of her passionate and rousing performance. With hits like Natural Woman and Miss Shiney her smooth vocals enthralled all.
Joined onstage by an acoustic guitar, Cajun drum and keyboard, Kaiit wowed with soulful, mellow vibes of messages about being true to oneself and embracing individuality. Everyone cheered as Kaiit showcased unreleased material including Lil’ Mama Theme Song.
The playful and exuberant artist expressed gratitude to be able to share her music at WOMADelaide. It is undeniable that Kaiit is an alluring musician and a must-see live performer. Watch out for more from Kaiit in April 2021.
From the opening notes of this set, a mesmerised audience marvelled at the splendour of Tash Sultana. A self-proclaimed one-person band, they skilfully navigated the stage playing a plethora of instruments from the guitar, percussion and trumpet to keyboards and drums.
Starting in music by busking in the streets, the talented musician has risen to fame in psychedelic/reggae rock and has been nominated numerous times in the ARIA and APRA Awards, resulting in a win in 2018 for ‘Best Blues and Roots’ album.
The artist’s voice was captivating as they transitioned seamlessly from one instrument to another. Each song was carefully balanced with perfect timing, as Tash was fully immersed in their performance. The immense track Jungle – Tash’s breakout hit of 2015 – opened with an electric guitar and loop pedal, and was written at a time of personal heartbreak for the musician. To see a consummate professional such as Tash perform live in front of an enthusiastic gathering was indeed a privilege.
WOMADelaide did not disappoint. With a sense of belonging for everyone, together with a respect for cultural diversity, the message of inclusion in education and society through music was abundantly clear and loudly celebrated.