Songhoy Blues: bringing people together
Following the release of their second album, RÃ©sistance, Malian rockers
Songhoy Blues lit up Kentish Townâs Forum on Thursday night.
Songhoy Blues is Garba TourÃ© (guitar), Aliou TourÃ© (vocals), Oumar TourÃ© (guitar) and Nathanael DembÃ©lÃ© (drums). Despite three members sharing the same surname, they are unrelated, but all belong to the Songhoy people (hence the band name).
Often described as producing âdesert rockâ, in reality Songhoy Blues defy labels. The quartet expertly produce a sound which blends influences from the Beatles to classic R&B. The result is extremely satisfying.
Following support from jazz/soul producer Alfa Mist, Songhoy Blues took to the stage. As the set began, Aliou immediately grabbed the audienceâs attention with his infectious enthusiasm. He was clearly having a great time as he danced in a way that would put Future Islandsâ Samuel Herring to shame.
The show began with singles from RÃ©sistance, with âSaharaâ particularly well received. Unfortunately Iggy Pop didnât appear for his feature in the song, so Aliou took over his gravelly vocals.
Classic tracks from the bandâs first album, Music in Exile, also went down well. While itâs difficult to sing along to the lyrics if youâre not fluent in Malian-French patois, this certainly doesnât hinder your enjoyment of the music.
Just looking at the groupâs cheeky smiles is enough to get you moving. Add to that a winning combination of guitar, bass and keyboard and youâre laughing.
During one track, Aliou asked us to hold hands with the people next to us. It was beautiful to see every person standing in unity with one another.
Unity through music
This theme of unity through music is central to Songhoy Blues. The group formed in 2012 when they were forced to leave their homes in Northern Mali during the civil conflict and the imposition of Sharia law. According to an article in The Guardian, the group âwanted to recreate that lost ambience of the north and make all the refugees relive those northern songs.â
For a band that has toured extensively, Aliou said that London feels like home. This is exactly what we need â to turn the UK into a welcoming place for both local and global musicians. The language of music is much stronger than any other, and this show proved that.
No matter where youâre from, youâll be able to connect with Songhoy Blues. Go on, I dare you.