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WOMAD: GRITTY GOODNESS

From the N.Z. Hearald by By Hayden Donnell

March 18th 2012

Alabama 3 singer Larry Love strode on stage clutching a bottle of champagne in his right hand, a cigarette in his left. In a gravel growl forged by years of nicotine and blues, he sang the famous first words to the British band's breakthrough song Woke Up This Morning - better known as the theme to The Sopranos. "You woke up this morning and got yourself a gun".

The next 45 minutes of music were among the most entertaining played so far at this year's Womad Festival, running at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth for its ninth straight year. Love was joined by singer Aurora Dawn, guitarist Rock Freebase and harmonica player Harpo Strangelove in a set that mixed country, delta blues and soul with occasional jarring transitions into dance and electronica.

Standing with his arms stretched at the audience, Love played the self-destructive shaman, reveling in the glory of bad nights out at the bar and heaping particularly virulent scorn on today's Facebook generation. Despite veering slightly off course with a sheep shagging joke (my manager told me not to mention it, but f*** my manager, said Love), this was raw, gritty and unfailingly cool.