IN their pristine white bridal gowns and black furry stovepipe hats, the three women of Dakha Brahka cut a striking, almost unnerving appearance – like something out of a Tim Burton remake of a 1920s silent horror film.
And then they sing – shrill, guttural, almost banshee-like; their haunting, otherworldly voices merge into something of resounding power and beauty.
All the while they are hitting assorted percussive instruments; one is also A cellist while the fourth member, a bearded man, plays accordion, grins a lot and hollers encouragement.
From the troubled Ukraine, Dakha Brahka, who describe their eerie, rousing music as “ethno chaos”, raised the bar impossibly high at the Siam Tent at WOMAD on Sunday.
An embarrassment of musical riches were to be had throughout the fourth and final day at Charlton Park.
Arriving at the Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage at 6.30pm was like tuning into 1940s radio show from the Midwest, as Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys, from Canada’s Prince Edward Island, performed a Hank Williams inspired hillbilly hoedown.
Gordie played fiddle and clog danced simultaneously. Then he played fiddle behind his back and clog danced simultaneously.
The Gloaming dug deep into their misty, traditional Irish roots; their slow, evocative pieces suddenly bursting into a furious fiddle frenzy.
The oft-used description ‘trans global’ could well have been coined for Nitin Sawhney. Perched on top of a speaker with an acoustic guitar, stage left, the Anglo Asian composer directed a large band that included two cellists, a flautist, congas, tabla and three lead female singers.
There was a grand, majestic sweep to this performance which seamlessly and imaginatively encompassed jazz, folk, electronics, flamenco and a buzzing kaleidoscopic assortment of Asian genres.
You need nerve to step in as a ‘last minute’ replacement for legendary soul singer Bobby Womack, who sadly died last month.
Nerve is something Sinead O’Connor has never lacked. If ever a performer wore her heart on her sleeve it was O’Connor. Her lyrics are brutally honest and soul searching – she goes to places others fear to tread.
Add to this a remarkable voice, melodies of real quality, a subtle yet intense when required band and you have a performance worthy of topping the Open Air Stage at the final night at WOMAD.