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Thursday, 10 April 2014 15:35

Concert review: Tinariwen (with the Melodic) wins over the Old Rock House with subversive, Saharan sounds, Wednesday, April 9

Tinariwen at the Old Rock House Tinariwen at the Old Rock House Roy Kasten
Written by Brittany Tedder
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Mixing West African musical forms with Western rock instruments, the nomadic group Tinariwen gave a hypnotic performance at the Old Rock House on Wednesday night.

The audience gave a warm welcome to the openers, the Melodic. The charango and melodica were the backbones of the British band's sound, along with Huw Williams and Lydia Samuels harmonious vocals. The Melodic played songs from its new album "Effra Parade," including "On My Way" and "Might I Deserve to Have a Dream." The attentiveness on bass and the folk-groove dance music made this band stand out from other folk-rock groups.

From one unique band to another, Tinariwen walked towards the stage dressed in their traditional Tuareg garb. Amongst the 20-somethings who were mostly dressed in jeans and casual shirts -- except for one fan who actually sported Tuareg garb himself -- the group charmingly stood out at the concert venue.

The group's music originates from the regional, blues-like music of Mali called "Tishoumaren" (music of the unemployed). The band is made up of old and new members: founders Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni and Alhassane Ag Touhami, with younger musicians Eyadou Ag Leche, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid and percussionist Said Ag Ayad. This evening the band focused on songs from its new album "Emmaar." The hypnotic guitar lines made you feel like you were back in the complexities of the group's homeland. The sound is peaceful, with so many different rhythms that it is almost impossible to clap along to them. At one point during the concert, audience members attempted to follow the syncopated 6/4 rhythms but finally gave up as it was too difficult to follow. Still, the audience cherished the music of Tinariwen; everyone danced joyously with each song played.

Ibrahim Ag Alhabib served as the leader of the band, but the spotlight rotated among the members, with the exception of the percussionist, who remained seated and drumming steadily throughout the night. Towards the end of the concert, all members left the stage except for Ibrahim who sang and played the guitar solo. The members returned to the stage for a couple more songs, contributing more handclaps and harmony vocals. With his electric guitar, Hassan showcased his awe-inspiring finger-picking skill that created an electrifying night to say the least.

Inspirational and rebellious, Tinariwen's music created a memorable evening, one that I hope to experience again.

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