Tinariwen @Ancienne Belgique, Brussels Belgium – 15 March 2017
Tinariwen emerged almost 40 years ago from a military camp of the great desert, bringing out a new style of music. As founding member, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib built Tinariwen’s roots in the Tuareg rebel community, exploring protest music on hand made instruments and integrating influences from western music within traditional rhythms, which spread from traditional Touareg to Malian guitar music and Moroccan, Berber Egyptian and Sudanese music, and the list could easily continue. Their have been preaching for the search of peace during the rebellion years of the 80s in Northern Africa, when Tinariwen was spread via audio cassette through the camps. But even after so many years, they continue their message about peace and life in their desert homeland, crossing frontier after frontier with their new albums.
The Ancienne Belgique prepared the venue for the sold-out performance with a flex formula for seating, consisting in theater chairs arrangement plus a standing areas. Being seated somewhere behind the PA, I could watch the decibels level of sound raising during the concert while at the same time the ambiance and the enthusiasm were becoming more and more flourishing and warm. A very dynamic performance, full of passion and soul, with collective moments alternating with solos on acoustic guitar.
Tinariwen is a group in which the idea of musical collective is central and defining. Even the guitars are shared between the group’s members, as the instruments are not the main subject, the music is. At the same time, everyone on stage had a microphone, bringing their contribution to the singing. One guitar was touched less then it was supposed to though. Tinariwen was announced to play for 2 hours but had to shorten the show to 1h30 due to the illness of Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, who played more of the role of guest within the band,featuring only a few songs, but those without any compromise. In spite of this (hopefully temporary) inconvenience, the entire concert was flawless, dynamic and full of charm. Full of lovely sense of humor as well, as the audience was asked several times during the concert “Ça va?” which, despite its repetitiveness, received lots of laughter and applauses in return.
The music was an absolute delight, a journey where electric guitar riffs and bass rhythms met traditional sounds and percussions, expressive dancing and a lot of feeling to which the audience could not stay indifferent. Music is a universal language for many reasons and one of them is that it can bring bands and audiences together to the point where all become a united collective.
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