I was lucky enough to attend a pretty amazing show last night: Tinariwen. They are a group of Tuareg musicians. I won’t pretend to have more than a surface knowledge about any of this, and I’m clearly leaving out an awful lot, but here goes: The Tuareg are nomads from the northern part of Mali and they are going through a pretty intense moment in their history right now. They are an ethnic minority, and apparently are currently trying to break away from the rest of Mali after a strict form of sharia law was being imposed on them by the ethnic majority. Then it gets a bit confusing, because apparently a whole different extremist Islamist group has since tried to co-opt their bid for independence? So the situation sounds bad and like things are still pretty much up in the air, and it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen to the Tuareg going forward.
My husband and I listen to their music, and the chance to see them live was a rare opportunity. The fact that we’d get to see them at this moment in Tuareg history made it feel even more important to go and to try and get some kind of further understanding. I’m glad we went. The show was good, and fascinating. I often felt like I didn’t really understand what I was seeing or hearing, and I wished I had translations of what they were singing, but it was still quite moving. Particularly moving to me was seeing the Tuareg audience members who were clearly so proud of the band, proud to be there, and just loving the show.
(I hope I haven’t totally muddled things terribly in my too brief synopsis, here’s an article with more detail: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/24/mali-africa)
A huge surprise and extra treat was that Kishi Bashi was the opening act. Kishi Bashi is Kaoru Ishibashi, a crazy-talented musician who constructs the most amazing, beautiful music by singing, playing violin, beat-boxing in Japanese, and looping as he goes and then playing with the speeds at which he plays back the loops and layering it all. And he does it all live, solo. It was jaw-dropping, gorgeous, and very joyful. So good.