Tinariwen | Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music | International | Chicago Reader

Tinariwen All Ages Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: 2009

This is Tinariwen’s fifth Chicago visit in less than five years, enough for the novelty of seeing Kel Tamashek nomads (widely known as Tuaregs) playing bluesy licks on electric guitars to wear off. The West African collective doesn’t depend on novelty, though: it’s one of the best bands on earth. Tinariwen sing of survival, not just of their culture but of their people, a timely and universal message in a world that severs indigenous tribes from their old ways of life and leaves them to adapt or die. This is the third U.S. tour in a row that key founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib has missed, but his bandmates infuse their entrancing weave of call-and-response vocals, skirling guitar lines, and hand-percussion grooves with such intense charisma that they hardly seem like a rudderless ship without him. Last month Tinariwen toured England as a trio, backed by oddball electro-folk group Tunng, but they’ll be a septet for these shows, one of only two stops they’re making east of the Rockies. The group just released a DVD, Live in London (World Village), and they’ve got a new album in the can; with any luck they’ll preview some new songs here. —Bill Meyer

Price: $22, $20 members, $18 seniors and children

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