Electric Fields
WOMADelaide Festival
Tainmuntilla/Botanic Park
Sunday, 13th March 2022
Hometown Brilliance

One of the delights of this year’s WOMADelaide’s 30th anniversary celebrations was the strong First Nations presence ripping up the stages around Tainmuntilla.

With acts such as Kutcha Edwards, Baker Boy, A.B. Original, Dhungala Baarka (Nancy Bates, Allara, Corey Theatre and Daniel J Marquez), Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, King Stingray and Barkaa, WOMADelaide was certainly celebrating its legacy of providing a platform for First Nations artists to tell us some uncomfortable truths through music over three decades. You can’t help but wonder whether we would now be experiencing the current flourishing of the indigenous music scene across Australia without this iconic festival.

It was therefore fitting that homegrown duo Electric Fields were amongst the stellar 2022 line up, holding court in their own right on Stage 2 during blockbuster Sunday. Their performance was a striking and haunting merging of traditional culture with electronic music, featuring special guests the Antara singers and Tiarutia First Nations Dance Collective. It was powerful stuff.

It seems impossible to believe that it has been five years (2017) since Electric Fields last graced the WOMADelaide stage and the 2022 performance provided an opportunity to appreciate just how far this duo have progressed. While this was a triumphal return, you can’t help but feel that they are on the precipice of something even greater. The stars are still definitely on the ascendant here and I for one am still wishing for their ‘Eurovision moment’.

Zaachariaha Fielding is always a captivating and compelling presence on stage with the voice of an absolute angel, and on this balmy Adelaide autumn night he ensured he owned the crowd, superbly backed up by the Michael Ross’s keyboards. There is a wonderful alchemy that is weaved together which the hometown crowd just lapped up. You are continually amazed at just how this duo continues to find ways to further push the boundaries for Indigenous music, particularly the use of language with lyrics weaving between English, Anangu, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytiatiara. This is reconciliation and truth telling combined in the purest sense.

With a song list that included Lore Woman, Pukulpa, a new track Catastrophe and Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good), they tapped into the emotion and movement which was further enhanced by the Antara singers and Tiarutia First Nations Dance Collective to build up to the ultimate crescendo, their moving version of the Paul Kelly/Kev Carmody song, From Little Things Big Things Grow – this was just simply divine. Bravo.

– Fontella Koleff

Photos by Sahil Choujar