Vieux Farka Toure at QEH, London 12/02/2012

Often described as the“Hendrix of the Sahara”, Vieux Farka Toure, son of legendary Malian guitarist, Ali Farka Toure, came to London on Sunday with his power rock trio to prove that desert blues is alive and well and that he is not just the “Hendrix of the Sahara” but much more besides.  

The concert started with the acoustic “Slow Jam” paying homage to the past, but that enthralling guitar sound, so characteristic of Vieux, soon became more intricate and trance inducing, building up to mouth-gaping climaxes. This was reflected in the wild exchanges with his drummer, Tim Keiper, who demonstrated impressive skills in the quieter moments as well. His style, very jazz oriented, complemented Valery Assouan’s delicate and minimalist funky bass. Both created a solid foundation on which the charismatic Vieux was able to meander in and out of mesmerizing riffs and solos, as demonstrated on the magnificent “Lakkal”.  Gradually, an array of western music influences emerged in Vieux’s choice of compositions. The anthemic “All The Same” was well served by an English guest vocalist, Stephen Ellis of Revere and revealed the potential crossover of this type of music into the rock market. Then there was the outstanding performance of young British blues guitar player, Oli Brown, who duetted with Vieux on “Walaidu”.  Vieux himself observed “He’s very good!”

The audience was transported by the whole show and keen to join in on some of the choruses. Vieux is definitely looking to the future and I feel there are more surprises in his coming projects.

Joel Roszykiewicz

Published in Songlines #83

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