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29 juillet 2007

Hayes stars in the rain at WOMAD

Soul legend Isaac Hayes provided a rain-soaked WOMAD crowd with a truly memorable performance last night. The Oscar winner played to an audience of thousands, who shrugged off the awful weather to listen to the remarkable set. When the 64-year-old and his band performed Soul Man, followed by the theme tune to hit 1970s movie Shaft, you could feel the electricity in the crowd.

Melissa Shields, 27, of Reading, said: "It was amazing. To see someone like Isaac Hayes perform live is awesome and it was incredible when he sang Soul Man and then Shaft. He was superb." Thankfully, despite the rain, there was no electricity coming from the sky. However, there was no way to avoid the heavy downpours, which punctuated what had otherwise been a glorious day.

A severe weather warning had been issued earlier in the day and, right on queue, at 8pm the heavens opened. The rain was expected to last until about 7am. It worsened the mud at Charlton Park, after the ground had at last started to firm up again, making the journeys back to tents and cars less than pleasurable.

The estate is now a complete mudbath, with one person even remarking that it was "worse than Glastonbury this year," as they trudged through the main arena.

Christian Aid worker Katherine Hogg said: "The mud is pretty bad, but you can't let it stop your fun. Everyone is getting stuck and all you can really do is laugh along with each other."

Malmesbury's mayor John Lawton was also enjoying the event at the Mayor's Parlour stall, which is raising money for the town hall renovation. "It's great," he said. "It's a crying shame about the weather, but everyone is really friendly and jolly and the music has been very good."

Other highlights of yesterday's programme included Candi Staton, who played to a packed Siam Tent audience, and gave an energetic performance that included her smash hit Young hearts Run Free.

By Gordon Simpson

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