KUCHING: The 14th Rainforest World Music Festival ended on a high note with a grand finale which left many festival goers vowing to return for next year’s festival.
Mamak Khadem from Iran kicked off the night’s concert with a transcendental set which featured classical Persian poetry and music, fusing traditional sounds with contemporary styles to create an aurally surreal atmosphere amidst the towering trees of Santubong rainforest.
Brittany-based Startijen raised the tempo a notch with their unique rendition of folk dance music using instruments unique to France. They were followed by oud maestros Jean-Pierre and Mehdi Haddab representing Duoud (Tunisia/Algeria) who whipped the growing crowd into a dancing mob with blazingly fast fingerwork on their electric North African lutes against a backdrop of thumping electronic music and throbbing stage lights.
It was then up to Kenge Kenge Orutu System (Kenya) to keep the dance fever going, which they did with an energetic performance of creatively choreographed skits and dance sequences. Thanks to the group’s high enthusiasm, it did not take the audience long to warm up to the sounds of Kenya’s traditional luo music conveyed through a unique assortment of self-made traditional instruments coupled with the animated voices and chants delivered by their front man and other vocalists.
Award-winning Malike Pathe Sow (Senegal) almost did not get to perform because their airline had misplaced their musical instruments. The group was originally slotted to perform on Friday night but swapped places with another group in the hope that their instruments would arrive on time.
Thankfully, they did and the crowd was treated to music from North Senegal. The group has musical roots which go back at least 1,000 years, and which has influenced other more well known music genres such as Afro-Caribbean.
But it was the closing act by bhangra-rock fusion band Kissmet from the UK which many of the audience members stayed to watch despite the approaching midnight hour.
Over the course of two days, the group had created a buzz about their music during various workshop sessions, and this had whetted festival goers’ appetite for more.
The group did not disappoint, unleashing a wall of infectious rhythm and electric keyboard and guitar driven dance music which set the appreciative crowd off into a moshing and singing frenzy.
It was the late hour yet the crowd stayed to show their appreciation to all the 22 groups which performed over the three days of the festival. They appeared on stage for one last combined performance in the grand finale. The audience also applauded the festival’s sponsors and multitude of volunteers, without whose support, the festival would not have been possible. Earlier during the festival, Sarawak Tourism Board vowed to maintain and improve the festival’s standing as one of the top international festivals.