Live In Paris 2014


Desert rock/blues legends Tinariwen take to the stage in Paris to deliver a powerful performance which unstintingly places the mood and the piece above any showing off or grandstanding. This outfit conjure up a musical and driven vibe then build it, twisting and shifting the rhythms with outstanding hypnotic effect. There is a certain link to the stealthy and authoritative tread of America’s John Lee Hooker and Papa Lightfoot, but these desert adventurers have found their own wartorn and perilous way to the groove.

One of the great roots divas Lalla Badi gave the group solace and shelter in the past and is honoured guest here. She sounds both defiant and grounded on the steady percussion trance opener Tinde and elsewhere where the theme occurs during the show. The band hit a respectful yet forceful feel whenever she features. The best players make a good job of backing others as well as fronting.

Some self-admiring rock gods think they are heavy dudes and The Real Deal, but will never come close to the steely agility and punch of this band. They use dynamics rather than volume and melody rather than any attempt at anthemic concoction. Which makes this music that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you get something out of Baba Maal, Eryka Badhu and Rachid Taha, this aggregation WILL get to you, I promise.

Much of the credit for the impact of this music goes to percussionist Said Ag Ayad and bassist Eyadou Ag Leche ; the guitar players and singers line up as Alhabib, Alhousseyni, Touhami, Abderahmane and Hamid. Even guitar players and fans like me will struggle to tell who is doing what from just audio. But suffice to say the weave always works and like Little Feat not everyone blasts out at once. If they did it would be a Flock of FreeBirds and make your head explode…..

Tamiditin has a regal tread and sombre vocals with a folky chord change ; Imidiwan Ahi Sigidam almost recalls Fairport Convention’s A Sailor’s Life with its relentless rhythm and buzzing guitar riffs. Azawad hits a Hooker like groove early on and is a variant on a field holler.

It’s almost like a train approaching as the electric Chaghaybou rolls into earshot; Toumast Tincha spirals its way into your head, underpinned by an ascending bass run, it is hypnotic and rousing and infuriatingly catchy. Not to mention irresistible. Tiwayyen, written by Leche is a busy tumble of a song with rolling guitar riffs and unison vocals. Emin Assosam takes its time building a plaintive, quasi-Pop Staples tenderness.

I don’t understand even one word of the lyrics on this release, but I get the passion and skill and above all, heart. Class and clout abound here.



Pete Sargeant

Tinariwen ‘Live in Paris 2014’ is out now. For more information visit: www.tinariwen.com