It's a Finn-tastic start to festival

Last updated 05:00 15/03/2014

A warm welcome on day one of Womad.

Osaka Monaurail

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Womad has done it again.

Last night thousands packed the TSB Bowl of Brooklands to soak up a world of music in Taranaki and the first night of the festival delivered a punchy programme.

Jeff Mitchell and Lynne Carpenter, of Victoria, Australia, said it was the best Womad they had been to, and they've seen the festival across the globe.

They were at Womad in England, and at Womad in Adelaide last week, but Taranaki trumped the lot, they said.

"This location is just sensational. The acoustics are amazing and the crowd is great," Mr Mitchell said.

Ms Carpenter echoed the praise, saying she'd move here tomorrow if she could.

Zimbabwean group Mokoomba were her band of the night, but Tim Finn delivered a sound performance too, she said.

New Zealand great Finn opened the event with an ode to Parihaka.

Along with the children of Parihaka, he welcomed the audience to the outdoor amphitheatre and three-day music event.

Later, without missing a beat, he showed his fans exactly why he has been a star across the decades when he rocked out to Poor Boy, from Split Enz.

With his energetic moves he held the crowd in the palm of his hand as he performed with New Zealand band The Bads.

Sixteen-year-old Siobhan Brophy said Finn was one of the main reasons she had come to the three-day festival.

"And the food," she said.

Siobhan had a three-day pass but said she had already decided she wouldn't be at the Bowl tomorrow, because of the weather forecast.

"But the rain will be good, because we do need it," she said.

The latest forecast for New Plymouth's Womad weekend is for wind gusts of up to 110kmh.

Heavy rain from the leading edge of Cyclone Lusi is expected in Northland, spreading southward to the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, the Gisborne ranges, the ranges west of Motueka, and Marlborough, including the Kaikoura Ranges.

New Plymouth will likely miss the heavy rain but won't be able to avoid the blow, with wind forecast to peak at an average of 46kmh at noon today. The MetService forecast is also predicting easterly winds rising to gale gusts of up to 110kmh.

At this stage tomorrow's forecast is for rain easing to showers with northerly winds.

But the chance of bad weather did not worry Hamilton couple Steve Murray and Ciane Lawrie.

"Ah, it's just a bit of rain and wind," Mr Murray said.

The couple, who came to Taranaki to experience their first Womad festival, said dancing in the rain would just add to the atmosphere.

Their top picks for the weekend were headliner Kimbra, Grammy Award-winning Arrested Development and Japan's answer to James Brown, Osaka Monaurail.

Osaka Monaurail's frontman Ryo Nakata told the Daily News he loved being in New Zealand and Taranaki was an incredibly special place.

The Japanese music scene was open to everything, he said, and he hoped to learn about the music of the world while he was at Womad.

The group played to a packed-out crowd last night, who soaked up the eight-piece funk orchestra and then begged for more.

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Osaka Monaurail's dance-inducing one-off performance was one of eight international acts on the first night of Womad New Zealand.

Among the talent was protest singer Emel Mathlouthi from Tunisia.

Despite her music being banned in her home country, Mathlouthi openly shares her songs with the audience across the globe.

Sporting a hot-pink tutu and tall blue boots, the singer belted out long haunting notes against some urban electronica. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, Mathlouthi's gothic tone will be one to catch tomorrow afternoon, when she plays her second and final set.

The night was abuzz with a smorgasbord of performances, which also included the tunes of Asif Ali Khan, La Chiva Gantiva, Makana, Delaney Davidson, Shanren and Breabach, who all perform again over the weekend.

The top picks for today from the Daily News team at Womad are: New Zealand band Moana and the Tribe at 4pm, Portugal star Carminho at 7pm, American musician Pokey LaFarge at 8pm, and the charismatic singer-saxophonist Femi Kuti at 10pm.

- Taranaki Daily News

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