A year ago, venerable Tuareg rockers, Tinariwen, played a rousing set at the Bouffes du Nord theater in Paris’ 10th arrondissement. Those who have been lucky enough to see Tinariwen live know that each of their performances is a truly special experience, and a live album of that show in Paris has just come out. For the bandmembers, the significance of the release is particularly poignant, given the recent terror attack at the nearby Bataclan hall, where they had also performed several years earlier with Robert Plant. The band wrote on Facebook, “We’re all touched by the tragedy that occurred a week ago because it affects our friends, music, freedom, values that Tinariwen has defended for almost 30 years…”
Many of the songs on Live in Paris (available from Anti- and on iTunes) come from the band’s last studio album, the outstanding Emmaar, which was recorded in the Joshua Tree desert of California and released in February 2014. Also joining Tinariwen on stage for three tracks was renowned tindé artist, Lalla Badi, a mentor for Tinariwen in their early days. Tindé refers both to a small goatskin drum played exclusively by Tuareg women, and to the poetic singing that accompanies tindé playing. At age 75, Badi has a captivating, vibrant presence on stage, as seen in the video for “Tinde Final.” The concert is in part a tribute to Badi’s impact on the band’s career and her enduring presence as an iconic Tuareg musician.
The band also pays tribute to their homeland with “Azawad,” a track named after the Tuareg area in northern Mali that has been the site of many conflicts dating back to Mali’s independence in the ‘60s. Although most of the tracks included here are recent, Tinariwen also reaches back into their deep catalog, most powerfully on “Tamatant Tilay,” from 2007’s Aman Iman: Water Is Life. Any live recording by Tinariwen would be well worth seeking out: The presence of Badi on Live in Paris makes this a particularly unique and memorable performance.