Vieux Farka Touré – Queen Elizabeth Hall | 12.02.2012

vft“Nobody knows I can play like this”

 Vieux Farka Touré, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 12.02.2012 Southbank Center

guitar, vocal: Vieux Farka Touré
bass: Johann Berby
drums: Tim Keiper

 London – Many sons and daughters of musicians have tried to follow the footsteps of a famous relative, but only a small part have succeeded in such a task. Ali Farka Touré wanted his son to become a soldier. But Vieux secretly was learning guitar shut in his bedroom. When Ali realized Vieux was not going to give up playing guitar, he recruited his good friend Toumani Diabaté and the North American producer Eric Herman of Modiba Productions. They expressed interest in recording Vieux. Touré junior represents as his father before, a generational bridge, drawing the line between traditional Malian music and culture and American blues: a gentle balance between tradition and innovation.

For those who’ve had the opportunity to hear Vieux Farka Touré: “the Hendrix of the Sahara” they easily recognised for his unique desert blues and for how his sounds surround you with trance-like guitar solos. The gig to promote his third album “The Secret” is a special show at the London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. The audience has been given a good warm up by the British blues Oli Brown’s trio as opening act. As for me, tonight has been a long journey from Mali to the Mississippi and back again.


The opening track “Slow jam” pays tribute to the past, but that funky bass and crisp percussion quickly become more intricate and trance. Drummer Tim Keiper, who demonstrated impressive skills, is part of the natural innovation in the groove of the talking drums of Timbuktu.

Vieux is able to get in and out of mesmerizing riffs and solos, as demonstrated in the magnificent “Souba Souba” and then “Lakkal”. Influences of Western music find place gradually. “All The Same” (in studio by Dave Matthews) is performed live by Stephen Ellis [Revere], English guest vocalist that is able to build an almost perfect crescendo rock. The young British blues guitar player Oli Brown comes back on stage to duet on “Walaïdu”. The audience is transported by the whole show and is keen to join in on some of the choruses and at the end, everyone gets up and dances for “Na Maïmouna Poussaniamba” and encore “Amana Quai”. It’s a fitting celebratory finale that leaves everyone with a lasting smile etched on their faces.

With his inspiring and flowing style, Vieux is known for captivating audiences from all over the globe, but, for those unfamiliar with the world of music, the complex textures and patterns and blues progressions, it could have been a challenge listening to 2 hours of live concert. At the same time, for the majority of the people in the hall, the electric buzz of his rock-influenced solos made the atmosphere magnetic.

He digs deep into the secrets of his own history and his country’s culture in order to bring the music forward. He is no longer just Ali’s son, now Here Comes the Son: the first African electric guitar player to be a Western rock star.

Antonello Furione



Permanent link to this article: http://therockblogreview.com/vieux-farka-toure-queen-elizabeth-hall-12-02-2012/

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