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2005 Festival

Musicport 05 was full of unexpected surprises and towering performances: Los De Abajo (with Dennis Rollins), Mostar Sevdah Reunion with Liljiana Buttler, Bellowhead, The Beat & The Warsaw Village Band all commanded the main stage.

The Bisserov Sisters, Kaushiki Chakrabarty, Hazel O’Connor, Daby Toure, Flame. Co & The Wrigley Sisters all won our hearts with their beautiful performances. Talvin Singh & Kate & Anna McGarrigle divided opinions but Talvin was a real gentleman and Kate & Anna just had to sing the first lines of "Heart Like A Wheel" to win many over completely.

2005 FESTIVAL Full Line-Up

Los de Abajo, Talvin Singh, Mostar Sevdah Reunion and Ljiljana Buttler, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Bellowhead, The Beat, Warsaw Village Band, Imbongi and Albert Nyathi, Kaushiki Chakrabarty, Daby Toure;,Bisserov Sisters,The Balkanatics, Molten Metal with Dennis Rollins, Yat-Kha,Cloudbase, Flame.co,Szapora, Hazel O’Connor, Jaipur Kawa Brass Band, Asere,The Baghdaddies, Swap, Alexander D Great, Robert Maseko and Rory Motion, The Wrigley Sisters, David Moss,Singh Strings,First of May Band,Oojami,Jali Sherrifo Konteh,Zena Edwards,Tuup,Kakatsitsi Master Drummers,Kwame D, Deadbeat International, Ella’s Bower, Ahmed and Emad, Jon Harvison, The Good, Virginia McNaughton, Kev Howard.

Musicport Review – Whitby Spa – October 2005 by Joe Grint

I'm sorry, but you have to go. It’s a simple as that. This festival is diverse, organised well, challenging, inspiring and bloody good value.

2005 was my second visit, always a test to get over. Like the difficult second album, expectations are high but reality has encroached. Perhaps sitting on the floor or standing for virtually a whole weekend (except for some respites in the comfort of the theatre) will prove too tiresome as our bodies age by another year. Maybe the lack of allure of the distinctly average Whitby Spa catering will send us scurrying in the October rain and cold to the catering vans in the car park. Maybe the real ale will run out on Sunday morning again (it didn't but the range was less exciting this year - the Wold Top bitter kept me satisfied though). Would the many unfamiliar acts on the bill prove unfamiliar for good reason?

Well, as you will have assumed from my opening instruction any misgivings were quickly dispelled. The Friday night saw Daby Toure weaving a magical spell on the crowds in the (stunningly decorated) main hall with his tuneful and uplifting Senegalese ballads. Unfortunately things took a disappointing turn then as Oojami, who sounded interesting on paper and featured a whirling dervish and a belly dancer, became tedious as they concentrated too much on inane rapping and laptop beats. Worse was to come as Talvin Singh took to the stage with another laptop heavy set. "Possibly the most expensive way of almost emptying a room" an insider commented later!

"But hang on, you said it was unmissable this Festival". Well yes, after the first night I was feeling a bit disappointed but this is the risk you must be prepared to take when you go to Musicport. Some artists will just not be your 'thing'. But, and it's a huge BUT, when the form suits you, you can expect to be exalted to musical highs you may not have reached for years. I know I was on the Saturday.

The day started well with a theatre piece by the 1st of May Band and continued with many significant highlights including The Beat (yes - Mirror in the Bathroom is alive and well), Warsaw Village Band (scary but beautiful) and finally Los De Abajos. Now this is a band I had not come across before but they were being touted as the best live band in the world.

Some reputation. - Well deserved.

For 90 minutes they entranced and excited us with their combination of Mexican mariachi, Cuban son, hip hop (and I normally hate hip hop!) and multiple other influences. Their energy was boundless, as was the audience's, despite the fact most of us had been listening to music for 13 hours when they took to the stage!

Sunday couldn't possibly follow that, although there were many high spots, including a relaxed set by the Wrigley Sisters to kick us off, Bellowhead (my first time – tremendous – now this is folk music) and a moving and exciting performance by the Mostar Sevdah Reunion. This band features musicians from the various ethnic groups in Mostar. They were a fitting final act to a festival that builds bridges between the world's communities and does so with such a sense of celebration that it is treasured by its loyal following of whom I now count myself one.

Join us at the end of October in Whitby - but bring an open mind. (Oh and a cushion may be useful)