WOMAD festival charms the masses with music for all

Fiery statements by politically fuelled artists preaching anti-racism on Saturday, the second day of the three-day WOMAD festival in Athens, were extinguished by suaver performances from older artists on Sunday’s closing night, at a delightful event that ultimately had something for all. Back after numerous visits here in recent years, Cape Verde’s Cesaria Evora, fronting her splendid 12-member ensemble, looked at home on stage. Performing her homeland’s melancholy morna, a mix of West African and Portuguese styles, the aging artist, who gained international fame a decade ago just shy of 50, even took an on-stage cigarette break midway through her set and shared some musings before dipping into more solemn material. She gesticulated that the break would not be a long one to amused fans. Accompanied at this point by just her pianist, Evora rendered the songs of her country’s hardship gracefully, before the two were joined by the rest for a rousing finale to Evora’s show and the event. Earlier, another suave performer, Peru’s Susana Baca, also a latecomer, charmed the audience by playing jazz-tinged latin sounds. Another highlight, ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, who performed Friday, proved his status as an innovative contemporary performer. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci. Adapted from Dave Barry’s best-selling novel, the story follows a mysterious suitcase which brings together a variety of characters living in Miami.