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Soul rebels Tinariwen show their time has come

Tinariwen at The Sage Gateshead

Tinariwen at The Sage Gateshead

The North-East might be a fair way from the south Sahara but Tinariwen are pretty much at home here, on this, their third appearance at The Sage.

Introducing the band, the concert hall's Ros Rigby reveals that Tinariwen have been asked to support the Rolling Stones on tour and they have already confirmed Glastonbury, WOMAD and other major European festivals for 2007.

It's fair to say Tinariwen's time has come with the release earlier this year of Aman Iman (Water is Life), and the band's appearance last night at The Sage was part of an epic European tour. Tinariwen appear just as they do in their pictures underneath wide desert skies wearing robes and head-dresses and in different permeations of their eight musicians.

Singing in Tamashek and sometimes in French, I suspect few in the audience understand any of the lyrics, however you can guess at protest, hope, land, rain, life, death and love.

Tinariwen are known as Touareg soul rebels who loosely formed a group in the 80s while in exile from Mali and have now gained a wide audience following the release of CDs this century.

Tinariwen play a fairly straightforward set at The Sage with guitars, a percussive drum and hand claps as their instruments. It is pretty masculine desert blues, much of it fast-paced, but some of the slower more melancholy numbers are incredibly affecting, while a French rap also went down well with the audience.

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