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Tinariwen (and Sophie Hunger!) Speak the Universal Language of Music, November 10

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Tinariwen

With Sophie Hunger

Presented by Rhythm Foundation

Grand Central

Thursday, November 11, 2011

Better Than: Being exiled from your native land and wandering the desert in search of rock 'n' roll.

In the past month Grand Central has treated us to eye-crossingingly complex new school prog/math rock courtesy of Nisennenmondai and Battles and the witchy post-electro soundscapes from the howling sirens of Austra.

The next place to go was obviously the subtly psychedelically throbbing East-meets-West guitar rock of Tinariwen.

First, though, Sophie Hunger, on acoustic guitar and keyboard, made her Miami debut with a bang. Her music is not entirely unlike that of clever solo songstress Regina Spektor. And both own unbelievably capable voices. Hunger, however, is a bit less bombastic than Spektor.

One particular number, the only song that Hunger performed alone on stage with just her acoustic, also recalled Miami's own Rachel Goodrich if she were on a Mountain Goats-style, speed-fueled, cross-country road trip.

Tinariwen lived up to our every expectation. Donning full Tuareg regalia (including ominous face cloaks for three members of the band), the band cranked out a trance-inducing 17-song set that oscillated between expertly blended '60s rock/Tuareg folk and the more contemplative acoustic music of the band's latest record, Tassili.

One attendee we spoke with after the show said he preferred the rock to the folk. And by the audience response, most show-goers seemed to agree. Though Tinariwen's newer material, played notably slower than on the record, may have killed some momentum, the upbeat, weddings-and-festivals numbers had people swaying like flower children and busting out shimmy two-steps.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: We came for Tinariwen. But Sophie Hunger might've stolen this show.

The Crowd: The audience members were in their late 20s and up. Well-dressed but not glamorous. Barely anyone was smoking cigarettes. There were librarians, people who sit on cultural arts committees, dads with thick beards and deep record collections, world music doofuses (see: Tim Robbins in High Fidelity), and, yes, hippies.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Fantastique!" shouted at Tinariwen by an adoring Frenchman.

Tinariwen's Setlist

-"Issekad"

-"Adunya"

-"Tenere"

-"El Ghaleti"

-"Assuf D'alwa"

-"Kud Edazanin"

-"Chatna"

-"Walla Illa"

-"Matanam"

-"Taniditin"

-"Anassakoul"

-"Wartila"

-"Ahi Tafahanan"

-"Arawan"

-"Achry Ibone"

-"Ettinassossen"

-"Saphean"

-"Oer Achel"

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