"Dark, mysterious melodies rang out, and he sang with power and purpose - reminiscent of a prayer."
Moussa Diakite & Wassado had bodies moving and grooving to their upbeat West African numbers.
Driving on the rhythms of an impressively relentless bongo player and the vocal harmonies of Diakite and back-up vocalist/keyboardist Patricia Alvarez, the six-piece created some infectious and beautiful music. Dotted with guitar solos from Diakite, their songs transported us to their West African homeland.
With this crowd of all ages now well warmed up, Tinariwen took to the stage, instantly dazzling in their cultural dress of colourful tagelmust and robes. Hypnotic bongo beats and blues guitar put us instantly under their spell, sounds rising, falling and drifting as if to mimic the sands of the Sahara.
Originally hailing from the Saharan desert region of Mali, Tinariwen were forced to leave relocate after war broke out in their homeland. Tinariwen formed in Algeria in 1979, only returning to Mali after a cease-fire in the 1990s.
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The hypnotic rhythms and Tuareg guitar created a continuous, peaceful flow like a series of dreams that seduced the entire crowd with Tinariwen's visions. The ancient Arabic vocal melodies invoked a deep, rich sense of history within the music and as the smell of marijuana wafted into the air the performers waved their Mali flag high and proud.
After a solid two-hour set and a lengthy cheer, Ag Alhabib returned to the stage solo with an acoustic guitar to play what was, without a doubt, the set highlight. Dark, mysterious melodies rang out, and he sang with power and purpose - reminiscent of a prayer. The rest of the band returned to join Ag Alhabib for the last song and the crowd roared as the curtains closed, leaving most of us a little bit awestruck and more than slightly humbled.