Touré sings primarily in the Malian dialects of Bambara and Songhai and did not sing any songs in English. He does speak English though (along with numerous other languages) and he explained before "Ali" that the song was about his late father, the great player Ali Farka Touré. A long cut with a hypnotic groove, it was easy to sense the reverence in the song. Similarly Touré said that "Yer Gando," which included bass and drum solos, was about a hope for peace and unity in Mali where various ethnic groups are often violently opposed. Many songs in Touré's set were mellow and psychedelic but "Ni Negaba" moved to a more forceful sound where the drums got louder and Henry joined in on background vocals.
About four or five songs into his set Touré advised the crowd they could dance if they wanted to, saying "move like this" as he gave a little shimmy. While greatly responsive otherwise, the audience didn't get on their feet at that point. While Touré plays the desert blues as known in North Africa, he tuned into an American blues groove for "Walaidu," one of his father's songs. The cut oozed Delta blues (Ali was influenced by Robert Johnson) and Touré's guitar playing was reminiscent at points of British rocker Robin Trower. As the show neared its end Touré once again urged the crowd to dance and this time everyone got up and shimmied along with Vieux who also let out a few joyous whoops during the last songs.
Before a one song encore, Henry came back on stage alone to tell the crowd a bit about Touré's philanthropic work in Mali and also noted that his new album Les Racines, not officially released until next month, was for sale at the merch table.
Touré remains on tour through mid-June and will play several festivals in late summer. Find a list of his tour dates here.
Share this article