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Tinariwen at the Bataclan, Paris (review)

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 11:05 am
by Charlie
Report from Andy Morgan, manager of the band, but also a good writer!

Dear Friends,

I've just come back from the Tinariwen concert at the Bataclan in Paris, undoubtedly one of the most eagerly anticipated on this epic European tour. When the date was booked last November there was considerable nervousness amongst all of us as to whether Tinariwen were really prepared for the Bataclan, a legendary Parisian rock/pop venue with a capacity of 1,600. In the event the gig sold out two weeks beforehand, and on the night the house was rammed, buzzing and expectant. Lo'Jo's opening set was, I must admit, absolutely fantastic...a transport of kaleidoscopic sounds, expertly blended, beautiful and passionately delivered. No other group of persons outside the Sahara deserves more credit for the success of Tinariwen than Lo'Jo...and the old bonds between the two bands were reinforced tonight. There's now talk of Lo'Jo and Tinariwen touring together with a full sound and light show next March. It could be magical.

Tinariwen were greeted like pop heroes...with a huge no-holds-barred roar of welcome. The audience was younger and sexier than those the band had already played to in the UK and Germany. There's no virtue in being young and no crime in being old (I should know) but the energy of a young up-for-it STANDING audience is a real tonic. Tonight I realised once and for all that Tinariwen will always sound and come across better in standing venues. Energised by the public response Tinariwen delivered an electrifying set, raw and masterful, full of trance and passion. It was one of the best I've ever seen from them, and I've seen a few. Halfway through someone threw a Berber flag up on stage, and Hassan proceeded to unfurl it and dance his dance of rebellious hedonism with it. There were huge roars of appreciation from the crowd...which made me realise quite to what extent Tinariwen are being adopted by the Berber movement as musical heroes and standard bearers. Outside France (and north Africa) this aspect of the band is hardly noticed. In Paris it was in full effect.

Robert Plant came on for the encore with Justin Adams and launched into a special three-track set: "Win My Train Fare Home", "Assouf Ag Assouf" and "Whole Lotta Love". The audience redoubled their hollers of appreciation. During "Whole Lotta Love" Robert forgot to finish off proceedings after the middle instrumental and had to be gently reminded by Justin that there was still the song's finale to perform...the bit that begins with the gut-wrenching quintessentially Plant holler "Waaaaay Doooowwwwwn Insiiiyide..." It was all done with great good humour and almost rehearsed comic effect. I have to say that Mr Plant was a gentleman throughout...accommodating, sensitive to the needs and wishes of Tinariwen and just an all-round diamond geezer. After the show he said to me "Andy, tell Ibrahim that I've been performing 'Whole Lotta Love' for 38 years and tonight was the first time I've ever screwed it up." Ibrahim was just over the moon about the whole thing anyway.

So there you have it. Standing in the audience on Saturday night I felt for the first time that Tinariwen were at last beginning life on a whole new level...both musically and success-wise. On the way to dinner there were fans outside the venue stopping Ibrahim and asking him if they could take his picture. It felt very strange indeed!...but pleasurable, without a doubt.

All the best, Andy.