• Tuaregs are roots-rocking the world: Tinarwen on tour

    Tuareg roots-rock band Tinariwen tour the U.K. and U.S. in March and April 2009

    Dates des prochains concerts du groupe Tinariwen en Angleterre et aux Etats Unis (mars et Avril 2009)

    MARCH - UK

    18 De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill 

    19 De Montfort Hall Leicester 

    20 Manchester Academy Manchester 

    21 Edinburgh Picture House Edinburgh 

    22 Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Liverpool 

    23 Leeds Irish Centre Leeds 

    25 Komedia Bath 

    26 Koko London 

    27 Reading Town Hall Reading 

    28 The Rainbow Warehouse Birmingham 


    APRIL - USA

    16 Palace of Fine Arts Theatre San Francisco 

    17 Rio Theatre Santa Cruz 

    18 Coachella: Empire Polo Field Indio 

    19 Santa Fe Brewing Company Santa Fe 

    21 KTAOS Solar Center Taos 

    22 Old Town School Chicago 

    24 Le Poisson Rouge New York 

    25 Heineken TransAtlantic Festival Miami 


    Read the latest RootsWorld review


    Tinarwen: Live in London (DVD)


    Other fine rock-and-blues-influenced Saharan guitar bands have followed in their wake (including Etran Finatawa, Toumast and Terakaft), but Tinariwen beat the rest to wider recognition and remain either the best of the bunch or the first among equals depending on how you look at it. Great though their albums are, Tinariwen also deliver in concert. I caught them live at the Houston International Festival in 2006, and they managed to do a lot with a little. Standing in an all but stock-still row on the stage and barely speaking between songs, they attracted a large and attentive crowd in remarkably short order with nothing but pure hypnotic guitar and bass riffs, sparse percussion and vocals that split the difference between Timbuktu and the Mississippi Delta.


    The group's new Live in London DVD similarly finds them making magic with the simplest of ingredients, though here the lineup is expanded to include female backup vocals (which they didn't have on their '06 U.S. jaunt), a guest turn by Justin Adams (the versatile U.K. guitarist and producer who helped bring Tinariwen to the attention of the world) and of course production values including cameras zooming in on the little nuances that make the music all the more persuasive. By and large, though, the presentation of the concert portion of the DVD is as simple as the music, so the featured songs from Tinariwen's three albums get by unassumingly and brilliantly on the strength of indomitable Touareg spirit, non-indulgent guitar mastery and spellbinding, repetitive rhythms.


    This would be enough to make this release a must-have, but consider the bonus material as well. There's a lengthy interview with band founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, conducted by a desert campfire at night, in which he speaks in riveting detail about the hardships of post-colonial Mali and how he embraced music to overcome them. A shorter interview with Adams and a mini-documentary provide further elucidation as to the band's origins, outlook and creativity. It all makes for a combination of music and imagery that provides nothing glossy or clever in the way of visuals, yet scores an absolute knockout in presenting what Tinariwen does best and the story behind it. - 

    Tom Orr

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