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Robin Denselow

It wasn’t until the encore that Ousmane Ag Mossa invited a translator on stage to explain his lyrics, and suddenly Tamikrest’s desert blues took on a new intensity. Their songs engage, passionately, with the continuing problems of the Sahara’s Tuareg people, divided by conflict and borders. And thus the encore, Aratane N’Adagh, from 2010 album Adagh, had an intensity that had been missing earlier.

It was a triumphant end to what had been a solid, if sometimes uninspired, set. The band have a new album, Kidal, featuring an all-male lineup: the female vocals of their former singer Wonou Walet Sidati were badly missed. Mossa should have had more help from his djembe player Aghaly Ag Mohamedine, who was given the chance to demonstrate his powerful singing on War Toyed.

Instrumentally, too, there were some disappointments. Tamikrest are a powerful guitar band underpinned by a tight rhythm section, and are capable of greater variety than they displayed here. One of the standout tracks on Kidal, the gloriously laid-back Atwitas, was mysteriously omitted from the set, and Mossa played only one song on acoustic guitar, concentrating instead on electric – with the sound level increased towards the end. On songs such as Wainan Adobat there were passages of impressive interplay with French guitarist Paul Salvagnac, who elsewhere added reggae, dub or rock influences to the loping Sahara ...

It wasn’t until the encore that Ousmane Ag Mossa invited a translator on stage to explain his lyrics, and suddenly Tamikrest’s desert blues took on a new intensity. Their songs engage, passionately, with the continuing problems of the Sahara’s Tuareg people, divided by conflict and borders. And thus the encore, Aratane N’Adagh, from 2010 album Adagh, had an intensity that had been missing earlier.

It was a triumphant end to what had been a solid, if sometimes uninspired, set. The band have a new album, Kidal, featuring an all-male lineup: the female vocals of their former singer Wonou Walet Sidati were badly missed. Mossa should have had more help from his djembe player Aghaly Ag Mohamedine, who was given the chance to demonstrate his powerful singing on War Toyed.

Instrumentally, too, there were some disappointments. Tamikrest are a powerful guitar band underpinned by a tight rhythm section, and are capable of greater variety than they displayed here. One of the standout tracks on Kidal, the gloriously laid-back Atwitas, was mysteriously omitted from the set, and Mossa played only one song on acoustic guitar, concentrating instead on electric – with the sound level increased towards the end. On songs such as Wainan Adobat there were passages of impressive interplay with French guitarist Paul Salvagnac, who elsewhere added reggae, dub or rock influences to the loping Saharan rhythms. But it was only at the end that Mossa found his voice and Tamikrest demonstrated their full power.

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