“THIS is one of our tropical songs,” grins singer-accordionist Natalia Tena from beneath a fetching floral tiara as she surveys several hundred hoodies, umbrellas and plastic macs gathered in front of the Open Air Stage.

The skies are unremittingly grey, the heavens opened up several hours ago and remained so for all of Friday but the music, by contrast, could hardly be more colourful.

Natalia fronts Molotov Jukebox, a genre hopping band who – true to WOMAD’S ethos – mash-up sounds from all over the world, from Eastern European gipsy to carnival-like Latino to create dance music that is exuberant, fizzy and indeed, rain-proof.

Can a trio of South African girls still shake it after more than half-a-century in the groove? You bet. The Mahotella Queens shook rattled and rolled through The Siam Tent, their regal harmonies aligned to nifty, age-defying dance moves.

Sometimes a band comes along and just tears the joint, or in this case Charlton Park, near Malmesbury, to pieces.

Step forward Orange Blossom, a French/Egyptian collaboration whose powerful concoction of Arabic rhythms and electronica is as beautiful as it is intense.

We are treated to the wind-swept desert blues, also in The Siam Tent (where it is commendably dry) from the absolute masters of the genre, Mali’s Tinariwen.

The one-time guerrilla fighters' guitars delight us all.

The Sahara truly has arrived in the green, muddy fields of Wiltshire… But hey, what’s this happening on front of the Open Air Stage? Buffoonery is at large. Soggy people are attempting ridiculous variations on English country dancing…in their wellies. They are slipping, sliding, having a ball.

It can only mean that the world’s loudest, most raucous folk group, Bellowhead, are on stage – a wonderful, lusty racket.

As the sun shines on the Earl of Suffolk’s backyard on Saturday thousands of fans are happily reggae dancing with Tiken Jah Fakoly.

The Siam Tent is stomping to the gipsy fiddle, surf guitar and gleeful party antics of Magnifico, who fully justify their name.

You can almost hear that pin drop later as the same venue is filled with the peerless harmonies of The Staves.

Possibly the star of the day, Aurelio, from Honduras, is simply staggering – outstanding songs performed with passion and fun, and whose band features a guitarist of outrageous dexterity.

Wiltshire Times:

  • Tiken Jah Fakoly perform on the Open Air Stage on Saturday at WOMAD. Picture: DIANE VOSE