The Sahara, not as dry as I thought…
I’m surprised to say it’s my first time at the Antwerp Mansion; as such we made a slight error by trying to get in the wrong door.
A little wander around – not quiet far enough to find the entrance – and we decided to knock, one of those knocks that shows a little too much urgency, so loud it frightened us and we rather timidly backed off down the steps to wait.
Thankfully we found a very accommodating host who welcomed us in.
The upstairs has recently been opened up to reveal the perfect spot for acoustic performances. It’s a simply and on the most part effectively set up with two speakers and mixing desk. But the vault ceiling means there’s not much else needed to make an incredible acoustic sound.
In full dress, slightly crumpled from travel, Anana Harouna and Danto Alyya take the stage joined by flautist Paul Daly and guitarist David Thom and their session drummer.
I can’t understand the words and yet somehow it doesn’t matter, the feeling is taking over the whole audience – gentle knee rises leads to rocking and I can see by the end Tinariwen will have the roof off.
The first song was as I had expected from a dessert rock band but following the kick off the sound moves to a blues/country riff. The session musicians are doing a spectacular job at keeping up but unfortunately with the lack of a monitor our drummer for the night seems to be struggling and so we offered help in the way of a hand clap or two, get him back on track.
Danto explains that the women’s cry’s (heard on earlier albums and so important to Tinariwen) have been replaced by the whistle/flute/piccolo which when not being played, are poking out of every one of Paul’s pockets.
As anticipated the show reaches to its climax, with everyone on their feet pounding about to ‘Tameyawt’, which we’re told after is – like so many of their songs – about overcoming the distress and persecution that many of their people live with.
Tinariwen, are not simply a great dessert rock band, they sing and play with passion and purpose and inspire everyone that hears them.
Words by Carolyn Davis