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Concert Review: Tinariwen feat. Huun Huur Tu

By Maryia Krivoruchko

February 21, 2010 9:26 pm

Never in my concert-attending life have I seen performers have an effect on the audience quite like Huun Huur Tu and Tinariwen.

To start, a standing ovation was given to the opening act ““ Huun Huur Tu, a throat-singing group from the Tyva Republic. Tuvan throat singers are famed for producing two sounds simultaneously in their vocal chords, creating a sound unlike anyone might expect from a human being.

The first song, “Moryl” was a striking a cappella introduction to the entrancing, low, buzzing sound of a harmony of notes coming from just one set of vocal chords. Huun Huur Tu’s song about a Mongolian horseman was marked by horse-like pacing of the drum that sounded like trotting with a whinny here and there. Other, slower songs were trance-inducing, and I found myself zoning out ““ in a good, relaxed way. It was an out-of-this world experience, without a single drug.

This was just the start, however, and no one could have foreseen the effect the headliner Tinariwen was about to have on the receptive audience. The Touareg rock group from the Sahara desert was extremely captivating, though it is difficult to pinpoint why. Maybe it was the guitars, or the tinde drumbeat. Maybe it was Wonou Walet Sidati’s readjusting the traditional Touareg veil while keeping a steady beat, or maybe it was the rolling blues, African rhythms and heartache of the people expressed through the music. Yet none of these elements alone made up the group’s appeal.

It started innocently at first, with one woman bravely coming up to the stage to dance (and by dance, I mean do body rolls) until one of the band members noticed and danced along with her. This was just a taste of what was to come, however. By the end of the concert, at least a third of the audience came up to (but not onto) the stage, forming the appearance of two mini mosh-pits right in grandiose Royce Hall. Middle-aged men were rocking out to the point of my concern, college students were doing rave moves, and couples were dancing side by side.

Tinariwen entranced the entire crowd, it seemed, with its French rap, Touareg lyrics, rock guitar and bluesy pain for their exiled people. I found myself rocking to the music, bobbing my head and clapping elaborate rhythms without intending to. Even so, there were times when I wondered what part of the show I was missing ““ I was still not ready to block the front row’s view of the stage, do body rolls and jerk my body to the heartache of the Sahara.

Overall, though I did not experience the musical transformation others clearly did, the entire show was emotional, beautiful and most of all entrancing ““ from the first Tyvan Republic standing ovation, to the middle-aged moshpit courtesy of Saharan Mali rock, Royce clearly witnessed some of the best of the best.

““ Maryia Krivoruchko

E-mail Krivoruchko at [email protected]

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