Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tinariwen at the Warhol - Concert Photos - April 1, 2014

In the past year, Pittsburgh has been visited by the biggest names in Tuareg music. It started in Lawrenceville last autumn with The Sahara Series.  The Thunderbird Cafe hosted five separate concerts over a two month span, starting with multi-instrumentalist Leila Gobi and ending with the superb guitarist and songwriter Bombino, whose new album, Nomad, was produced in Nashville by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.

Tuesday night saw the granddaddies of Tuareg rock, Tinariwen, play the Warhol for their Sound Series. The band formed in 1979, slowly earning international attention by playing the currently-defunct Festival au D├ęsert in Mali, and in 2011 their album Tassili won the Grammy for Best World Music Album. (For those looking for a more thorough history of the band, Manny Theiner, who was instrumental in bringing the Sahara Series to Pittsburgh, wrote about the band for the Post-Gazette.)

The silver bricks of the Warhol's new Factory-inspired Entrance Space set off the band's colored robes and tagelmusts like brightly-colored scarabs in the moonlit sand. But not all is well in Mali, home to an al-Qaeda affiliated insurrection. And after a failed attempt by a nationalist Tuareg group to declare an independent homeland, Azawad, in Northern Mali, the band is currently living in a sort of exile. Their new album, Emmaar, was baked in the deserts outside Joshua Tree, not the Sahara.  So when you saw "AZAWAD" taped on the side of Eyadou Ag Leche's bass guitar, the rough-hewn letters screaming out like a marooned man's "SOS," you were reminded why their music is called "desert blues."

Here are some photos of the performance:

-- B. Conway

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