Ian Birrell, writing for the Independent, summed up WOMAD Abu Dhabi, including Robert Plant’s performance with Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara. He writes:
The result was like a world cup of music, with banners, flags and cheering crowds. The Maghrebis turned out in force for Massi and Khaled, the Kurds for The Kamkars, the West Africans for Youssou N’Dour, the Westerners for Robert Plant. Each was greeted with a passion unlike anything seen at a British Womad. Plant joked that he was expecting to be booed off stage, such was the fervour building for the Egyptian star Mohamed Mounir, scheduled to follow him. It made for an intoxicating festival, despite the reliance on fruit juice rather than vodka jellies.
The last night belonged to two men. First up was Robert Plant, playing as special guest of his friend and guitarist Justin Adams and the Gambian griot Juldeh Camara. Plant was in imperious form, with three Led Zeppelin songs in a nine-song set : “Four Sticks”, “Rock and Roll” and a rapid-fire “Whole Lotta Love”. The single-string of Camara’s ritti was weirdly discordant, adding an intriguing new element to the songs. Best of all was the makeshift band’s cover of Leadbelly’s “Black Girl”, slowed down to the point whereby it teetered on the edge of disintegration, bringing out the full malevolence with spine-tingling passion.
Watching Plant perform, it seemed rather admirable that he turned down vast sums to retread old footsteps in favour of continuing to explore the music that has inspired him throughout his life in all its myriad forms. He was rewarded with screams from the audience – a sound not often heard at Womad festivals, let alone in the Gulf – and women holding banners saying that if he wanted a whole lotta love, invite the holders on stage. It proved old rockers can remain revolutionaries.
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