Before that, though, there were Jose Gonzalez's opening guitar ballads - among which, popular covers of the Knife's Heartbeats and Massive Attack's Teardrop that imposed a welcome silence over the auditorium. However moving for some, I will have to declare, personally, that his lack of tension rather resulted to a lack of interest where I was concerned.
I had much higher expectations for Tinariwen - a mighty bunch from the Sahara desert, that fight to be heard through their electricity-ridden music, as much as their dedicated acts of resistance. The seemingly ever-present figure of founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib was immediately conspicuous by its absence. He stayed in Mali in order to help fellow Tuareg refugees (which fact, alone, was enough to instantly launch the band among my most esteemed musicians). Having already experienced their heady mix of sand deep Tuareg tradition and guitar magic, it took me a while to warm up to their performance this time. Maybe it was their latest, fifth album Tassili that didn't quite agree with me, or maybe Alhabib's mandatory... absence for that matter. Surely something got lost in translation.
The biggest excitement of the show came near the end, and it was, unfortunately, non musical: Channel 4's Jon Snow handed the band Songlines magazine's Best Group Award in full glory, followed by a Grammy for Best World Music Album for Tassili. Despite my objections to that particular live show, if anyone deserves it, it's them.
Her remarks had a friendly air but, the rest of the time, she put on an indifferent facade I found rather snobby. Boring? Definitely... Despite a backdrop of giant light boards flashing her name pompously, the only flashes of excitement I got (barely) were when she played Paris Is Burning and Delirium - the highlight of the show no doubt (and we had to wait till the encore for that one). The rest, pretty pointless..
Review and Tinariwen photography (from their Athens gig ) by Danai Molocha