Live Review: Tamikrest & Dirtmusic

Tamikrest & Dirtmusic
The Borderline, London, 18 May

I’d been sold on the idea of seeing Tamikrest and Dirtmusic perform together ever since the moment I first popped the DVD that came with Dirtmusic’s BKO album into my DVD player and got to see some of their Malian odyssey.

On paper it looks like a mix that shouldn’t work. Here we have a band made up of one Australian and two Americans teaming up with a band of Tuareg musicians – a minority in their home country of Mali. But somehow Dirtmusic and Tamikrest have found a kindred spirit in each other – one that has produced some awesomely beautiful music.

Dirtmusic’s new album takes its name from the airport code for Bamako airport in Mali, where it was recorded. The gig itself was kind of a musical game of tag. Dirtmusic would play a few songs, then Tamikrest would play a few, and then the two bands would either jam en masse or in some permutation or other. Tamikrest’s percussionist, Aghaly Ag Mohamedine, provided a solid groove on his djembe all throughout. Fatma Walett Cheikh (Tamikrest’s backing vocalist, and the only female on stage) added haunting melodies to some of the songs. Hugo Race (Dirtmusic’s lead vocalist) MC-ed the whole glorious mess with style.

It was an amazing gig – and apparently I’m not the only person who found the combination of acts intriguing. The Borderline was packed. A handful of young Tuareg men stood right in front row of the audience waving flags. ‘Black Gravity’ (from Dirtmusic’s album) received a particularly warm reception from the crowd. So too did ‘Ready for the Sign’ and their Velvet Underground cover ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’. The music was raw, earthy, gutsy… and simply beautiful.

As I write this, both bands are together on a ‘night liner’ bus, touring Europe via road. Here’s hoping the bus swings round this way again soon.

Set list:

  • Other side (Dirtmusic + Aghaly)
  • Collisions (Dirtmusic+ Aghaly)
  • Still running (Dirtmusic+ Aghaly+ Ousmane)
  • Amiditin (Tamikrest)
  • Alhorya (Tamikrest)
  • Adounia (Tamikrest)
  • Outamachek (Tamikrest + Hugo)
  • Black gravity (Dirtmusic/Tamikrest)
  • Ready for the sign (Dirtmusic/Tamikrest)
  • All tomorrows parties (Dirtmusic/Tamikrest)
  • Desert wind (Dirtmusic/Tamikrest)
  • Unknowable (Dirtmusic/Tamikrest/Mossa)
  • Toumastin (Ousmane, Chris Eckman & Chris Brokaw)
  • Aicha (Tamikrest/Dirtmusic)
  • Tidite Tille (Tamikrest/Dirtmusic)
  • Tamiditin (Tamikrest/Dirtmusic)
  • Lives we live (Dirtmusic/Tamikrest)
  • Adagh (Tamikrest/Dirtmusic)
  • Smoking bowl (Dirtmusic/Tamikrest)
  • Tahoult (Tamikrest/Dirtmusic)

Ousmane Ag Mossa – lead vocals , lead guitar
Aghaly Ag Mohamedine – Djembe
Cheikh Ag Tiglia  – bass, vocals
Fatma Walett Cheikh   –  backing vocals
Mossa Ag Borreiba – rhythm guitar,  vocals

Chris Eckman – vocals, organ
Chris Brokaw – vocals, guitar, drums, slide banjo, maracas
Hugo Race – vocals, guitar


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