COMBINED REPORTS - WOMAD Festival, Reading, England July 25-26 2003 From: Harry S Fulcher
To: "Hix List" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Womad 25-7-03 review
Date sent: Sun, 27 Jul 2003
Womad 25th July 2003
The Womad (world of music and dance) festival is one of the UK's biggest
and most respected festivals. It celebrates culture from around the world.
People who go are predisposed towards "world music" and generally are
willing to try anything.
I had been nervous all day about how Dan would be received. I truly felt
as if I was taking my fiancée to meet my folks for the first time!
Although Dan fits the job description of the festival I sensed that the
show caused some initial surprise. The event leans towards catering for
white dread-locked punters seeking a trance 'n' dance experience to exotic
music from far-away places accompanied gastronomically by vegetables in
fifteen different languages and I think Dan and The Hot Licks constituted
a fairly startling sight. It's a fair guess that only 5% of the crowd may
have heard of them.
The blue "Siam" tent where they appeared is very large. I'm hopeless at
estimating crowd numbers but I'd guess that there were around two thousand
people there. The ceiling of the tent is decorated with day-glo patterns
for the stoners. The stage, P.A. and lighting rigs are all serious.
As soon as the act previous to Dan had finished Bobbi and I claimed our
territory up against the crowd barrier, front centre. As the Licks and
Lickettes moved their instruments on stage and sound checked they were
gracious enough to smile and gesticulate some friendly hand signals to me
which was lovely. I was struck with admiration for Dan during the
soundchecks because he insists on almost acoustic levels on stage, leaving
the outfront to deliver any power needed to the audience.
There were a good number of vociferous Dan fans near the front but for the
first few numbers our cheers and encouragements seemed to be small voices
in a big crowd. After opening with "Canned Music" they played "Long Come A
Viper" which started to gee the crowd up. By the third song, "Evenin'
Breeze", the band were into the swing of the show and the crowd was
warming to them.
As Dan announced the fourth tune he mentioned the word "womad" which drew
a big patriotic cheer. "Is that what it takes?" he said looking amused. He
locked onto this and milked the mention of womad effectively during the
rest of the hour long set. This definitely helped to draw in the audience.
"This is a tune we learned while we were living in America" he said,
announcing "Peach Picking Time". This song featured his
"longest-sustained-vocal-note-ever" stunt and a great Dylan impression.
Dan started to use another womad buzz word in his links, referring to
"roots music", roots American jazz" and "roots American folk" which went
down very well with the "roots" brigade in the audience.
By the next number, "Honeysuckle Rose" ("...covered by Charlie Parker and
Britney Spears"), the crowd were on the bands side and were starting to
really appreciate the humour and the music. For "I Scare Myself" the
Lickettes donned dark glasses and postured strikingly with rainstick and
finger cymbals which the audience enjoyed, as they did the dance routine
during "Exactly Like You". By now the whole tent was converted to Hicksism
and the demand for an encore after "I Feel Like Singing" was thunderous.
As the show picked up momentum from the audience in leaps and bounds I
thought I noticed genuine surprise and delight among the band when each
successive song was appreciated more than the previous.
The band came back on and Dan announced that they were going to play "The
Buzzard Was Their Friend" "really fast" because they felt charged up. And
they did play it fast! Everybody wanted a second encore which was
unfortunately a practical impossibility.
The musicianship and stage craft throughout was superb. David, Brian and
Nick are brilliant soloists. I'm going to be searching out Nick after the
tour because his solos are intelligent and he's a nice guy. The Lickettes
were gorgeous and dynamic.........I want to have their babies! Susan is so
warm and such a party girl on stage. I felt occasionally anxious for
lovely Robyn who has to work so hard for practically the whole set shaking
the egg in eighth notes. Just once or twice it looked as if she was afraid
of losing the meter and I don't blame her!
Dan has gone up even higher in my estimation if that is possible. He
constructed the set at Womad very efficiently, knowing that the laconic
intimacy with the audience which we had enjoyed so much at the small
Birmingham venue would not work on a big festival stage. The style with
which he leads the band is a lesson. I don't know what may transpire at
rehearsals but on stage he is relaxed and helps the band to be relaxed.
His tempo directions for each number are physical and precise but best of
all he seems to allow for looseness and genuine improvisation which gives
the music the hint of danger which I love.
If this week of packed shows and this triumph at Womad doesn't persuade
Dan's people to return the band to our shores soon, alive and lickin',
those executives responsible deserve a damn good kickin'!
(Mr. Very Happy Pants)
From: Martin Strugnell
Date sent: Mon, 28 Jul 2003
Subject: Dan at WOMAD - Saturday night
Well, the heavens opened on Saturday and it pissed down (as we say in
Britain) all day long. As a result the outdoor stage was sadly bereft of
punters despite some top acts from Afica and South America. People were
reduced to attending anything under cover, and the leader of the
Zimbabwean Carpet Weaving workshop probably could't believe his luck as
thousands thronged to attend his fascinating talk.
We got soaked but, living just down the road we could go home and
change into some dryer clothes - unlike some poor campers. Anyway,
the rain had relented as 10.30 approached and we took our places at
the Little Blue Tent - already half-full of 200+ punters. A much more
intimate gig than Saturday's. The vibe around us was people saying "I've
heard this guy is fantastic" and "this guy was dynamite last night".
Although I think many had been there all evening and were happy to put up
with anything if it was dry.
10.50 arrived and still no sign of Dan or, worryingly, the gear. We
knew he was doing the Charlie Gillet interview, but the hippy vibe at
WOMAD means timings at get a little, er, vague - but this was worrying
because there a midnight curfew. Dan did arrive at 10.58 to ironic cheers,
and a quick set-up and no soundcheck saw them swing into "Canned Music"
So it turned out to be a very different set to Friday's. It was
intimate, and the audience were much more up for it from the start.
Plus Dan, aware of the little time available, rushed through numbers more
quickly, solos were shortened, and the patter between numbers was kept to
I was in too much ecstacy to note down the set list, but the number
that grabbed me most was "Song for my father". I'd always loved the
Horace Silver/Joe Henderson version and have spent ages trying to
work out the chords, but in my ignorance never knew it had words!
(Were they added afterwards, anyone?). The band did a beautifully
tasteful and restrained version which will stay with me for a long
Dan's twin brother (described by Harry previously) was also there in at
the front, crooning all the words to his missus. The bit where they sang
"I'm so in love" to each other (at the end of THe Buzzard was their
friend") was sick-making.
So, it was all over too soon. Dan came back to huge applause just
after midnight, the band did "Buzzard" for an encore and we went home into
the night happy.
Now to Nottingham!