I have never been to Mali, my toes have only touched the edge of the mighty Sahara sands, and yet the connection to these Tuareg desert nomads was instantaneous and moving. The entire audience was transported to another world, where Tamashek is spoken and the pace of live is slower and more challenging. On this night, that was a great place to be.
Tinariwen, dressed in traditional robes that covered much of the face, opened the show with an a cappella chant accompanied on the by the faintest bass, percussion on calabash and hand claps. It was intense, and in many ways set the tone for the evening. Indeed, the music played during the 100-minute performance was heavy, passionate, moving, joyous, riveting, penetrating, hypnotic and uplifting -- often all at the same time. Songs typically began will a slow build, a deeply resonating guitar pattern that gradually grew in strength as the band joined in with multiple harmonies, hand claps, percussion and bass, adding complexity among the new layers.