While the pandemic forced a dramatic change in format for the world music festival in 2021 – it was moved from Botanic Park to King Rodney Park in the Adelaide Park Lands, with a seated, socially distanced audience and no international artists – organisers and fans hailed it as a success.

The concert series opened on Friday night with Archie Roach making his seventh – and final – WOMADelaide appearance, a poignant performance featuring mainly songs from his 30-year-old debut album, Charcoal Lane. Singer-songwriter Lior took to the stage on the same night with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra to perform his Hebrew-Arabic song-cycle Compassion, with the orchestra conducted by his collaborator, composer Nigel Westlake.

WOMADelaide 2021 headliners Midnight Oil performed on Saturday night and had the capacity audience on their feet for the full set of hits from throughout their career, then returned last night for Makarrata Live – songs from their latest album performed with First Nations collaborators including Dan Sultan, Alice Skye, Troy Cassar-Daley and Bunna Lawrie.

Other highlights over the weekend included Tash Sultana, whose Sunday night set showcased the musician’s skills on myriad different instruments, neo soul singer Kaiit, and Vika and Linda Bull, who were in fine form on Saturday with a set including gospel songs, new tracks and a powerful rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, performed as a tribute to music industry legend Michael Gudinski.

Read reviews of WOMADelaide concerts here

WOMADelaide in pictures

Makarrata Live: Midnight Oil perform with Bunna Lawrie and Dan Sultan. Photo: Tony Lewis

Lior and Nigel Westlake performing with the ASO. Photo: Tony Lewis

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Tash Sultana. Photo: Tony Lewis

Kaiit commanded the stage with a playful RnB set. Photo: Tony Lewis

Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil rocked the park on Saturday night. Photo: Tony Lewis

Sarah Blasko closed out Friday night’s concert. Photo: Tony Lewis

The Teskey Brothers took to the stage on the final night. Photo: Tony Lewis

Soulful sisters Vika and Linda Bull. Photo: Tony Lewis

Midnight Oil with Bunna Lawrie and Troy Cassar-Daley. Photo: Tony Lewis

MRLN and RKM opened Saturday night’s performance.

Tash Sultana at WOMADelaide 2021. Photo: Tony Lewis


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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.