Sharon Jones steals the show at WOMAD

By Steven Shaw

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings totally justified their position as crowd favourite last night at WOMAD 2008 in New Plymouth, delivering an incendiary set of 60s style soul-funk and leaving the audience screaming for more.

The eight piece Dap-Kings backing band came on in true soul revue style, wearing 1960s suits and skinny ties. They threw down a fast-paced, funky instrumental before their in-house MC and guitarist Binky Griptite welcomed the "Queen of Funk" onto the stage.

Once there, Jones prowled the stage, looking dangerous and singing up a storm. She danced and gyrated with various members of the audience, working her way through selections from the band's three albums, and focusing mostly on material from their 2007 release 100 Days, 100 Nights.

On Friday night Jones appeared during Mavis Staples' encore song. She was welcomed onstage so enthusiastically by Staples that it's clear the torch of soul music has been handed on to Jones and The Dap-Kings.

Staples closed the evening on the TSB Bowl stage, again going through a relatively low key set of swamp-blues and gospel songs, and telling stories from the civil rights era.

Earlier in the day, the crowd was entertained by SJD, the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra and chart-topping Whakatane band Kora. International acts included Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra, Brazilian samba-rockers Clube de Balanco and Israeli crooner David D'Or.

Indie-folk act Beirut proved themselves to be a crowd pleaser once again, performing their second set of the weekend on the TSB Bowl stage. Revelers were taken into the wee hours by New York City DJ Nickodemus.

WOMAD continues today from midday at New Plymouth's Brooklands Park and TSB Bowl with a solo set by Neil Finn at 8pm tonight. The closing performance at 10pm is called "Gala" by Don McGlashan and will feature an as-yet unnamed cast of musical guests from various festival acts. But before that, there's another chance to see the mighty Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at 9pm.

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