Tinariwen: The Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool


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Welcome to the desert! The sandstorm Saharan solos blast into Liverpool Philharmonic, Getintothis’ Sean Bradbury is suitably blown away.

Ca va? Is ok?‘ asked Tinariwen‘s Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni between every song.
He needn’t have worried; the whole of Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall was elsewhere, transported to the Sahara by his group’s hypnotic drones, Tuareg tribal beats and electric fusion blues.
Welcome to the desert,‘ he declares.
Tinariwen, as usual, were dressed for it – brightly-coloured plumes of robes and scarfs, faces barely visible.
The first half showcased their meditative side as musicians and audience got warmed up for the occasion through slower, more intricate rhythms on low-key numbers, several coming from 2011’s Tassili.
Instruments switched and swapped, vocal duties were shared and the pace started to build towards the interval as every member of the ensemble got ready to rock.
The second act began with a blast from a shepherd’s flute before Abdallah Ag Lamida‘s melodious sandstorm solos came to the fore as the dial cranked up, the band busting out some of their up tempo back catalogue from Imidiwan and Aman Iman.
The party mood peaked with the irresistable shuffle of Cler Achel.
By now, Bez of the desert Hassan Ag Touhami – the self-styled ‘best dancer and vibemaster between Algiers and the banks of the Niger River‘ – was conducting proceedings; stripping things back with a solo acoustic number, then locking into another delectable psych groove as the whole room moved to his beat.
A visual delight and musical pleasure, to spend an evening in the company of Tinariwen is to witness a vibrant expression of a naturally expert craft.