After the wonderfully riotous impact of the Manganiyar musicians came the irresistible rhythms of African music from Mali. Last night I went with some friends to the free Sydney Festival concert in the Domain to hear Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra, supported by Vieux Farka Toure.
I'm always reluctant to go to large free concerts like this. I imagine crowds, delays, lots of waiting time, discomfort and general effort. However, whenever I have attended, my worst fears are never realised. And last night was no exception. [For those who don't know Sydney, the Domain is a large open public space on the edge of the city centre. Most of the year it's used by city workers for games and exercising, but it's also the main venue for large public gatherings such as the Festival's free concerts and even for political rallies.]
Last night it took me about 20 minutes to get from home to the Domain (see what I mean about worrying unnecessarily). We arrived in the early evening about an hour before the concert and easily found a place for our blanket - not close to the stage, but with a nice view of the performance and the crowd.
We ate our simple picnic food, drank our wine, chatted, and watched the bats that live in the surrounding trees find their places for the night. I also managed some knitting.
So, in summary? There was a buzz from being part of such a large, relaxed crowd enjoying themselves together. There were no delays in either getting there or going home. I caught up with my friends and shared good food and wine. Sitting on the ground for so long was uncomfortable, but with more forethought I could alleviate that. And the music was wonderful- particularly Toumani Diabale's 'fusing of tradition and innovation' (I'm quoting from the festival brochure). It's the kind of music where you just can't keep still while listening - without thinking you find your feet tapping, your head nodding and your shoulders swaying .
It was certainly worth making the (very minor) effort to go.