Tinariwen at Invisible Wind Factory (7 Mar ’17)

My third new venue of the year, for I’m pretty sure what was the first Malian band I have been to see, Tinariwen – and certainly the first to be dressed in Tuareg desert-wear.

Ticket

Obviously, this was another top booking from the mighty Harvest Sun!

My experience of live African bands probably stretches no further than The Bhundu Boys and The Four Brothers, both very jangly bands from Zimbabwe whom I saw in the early 1990’s.

This is a shorter than usual review, as although I enjoyed the evening, I find it difficult to describe the music in much detail, or to identify one song from another (despite owning their last two albums), probably due to the language barrier.

I took the train to Sandhills before heading off on the twenty-minute walk to the Invisible Wind Factory, which I found without too much difficulty.

There was a long queue for the bar so I forwent a drink and headed into the, older than usual, crowd. There was actually one person amongst the audience dressed in a similar desert outfit to the band.

After half an hour or so of some largely enjoyable, mostly African-sounding music spun by Beaten TracksBeaten TracksRichie Vegas, none of which I actually recognised, out came Tinirawen. Despite the claims that the show would be “with guests”, this ended up just being the (very good) DJ.

The venue was actually smaller than I expected it to be, so wasn’t as cavernous as I’d feared, with the crowd really getting into the mood with a lot of swaying, dancing and even (aagh) clapping along.

They play a mix of electric and acoustic guitars, with two drummers, one playing Western drums and the other more of an African kit.

Tinariwen

There was some great dancing by members of the band, while the arrival on stage partway through the set of founding member Ibrahim Ag Alhabib in a lovely bronze-coloured coat brought great cheers. He came and went throughout the set.

I find it hard to describe their music, but some songs were more droning, twangy or pulsing, while others were extremely hypnotic. One was wailing with some wonderful, dirty guitar.

I think this was one of the songs played:

Different band members led the performance throughout their set, with a funky rock guitar number followed by an acoustic-led Asian-sounding song, while another featured a furious bass solo.

Tinariwen

They headed offstage after around eighty minutes, before one of them returned for a solo acoustic, Spanish-influenced song that then brought in some doomy vocals before he was joined by the rest of the band.

One more song with some great dancing on stage closed the set. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, setting me up nicely for a long trek all the way to Singapore early the next morning for work.

Tinariwen

Tonight’s t-shirt

Sadly I failed to spot another band tee amongst the crowd. I was wearing my new pale blue Old Grey Whistle Test t-shirt.

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Playlist

I usually post a playlist to the music from the night on Spotify, but won’t this time as I can’t be sure which songs were played and which weren’t.

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