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Vieux Farke Touré at Belgrave Music Hall

After the success of his latest release, Les Racines, and his collaboration with Houston psychedelic-rock trio Khruangbin in 2022, it was no surprise that Touré’s show at Belgrave had sold out and was packed to the brim. The release with Khruangbin, Ali, on America’s Dead Oceans label is an eight-track tribute to his father, legendary Malian blues artist, Ali Farke Touré. The project that was supposedly agreed over fish and chips in a London pub was completed within a week. I was therefore intrigued to see if Touré would feature any of the re-workings of his father’s beloved tracks in his setlist.



After the high-energy supporting set of international collective, Kefaya, Touré emerged on stage with a bassist and calabash drummer in tow, greeting an excitable Sunday crowd. The set started off with the title track of his latest album, Les Racines, showcasing his quintessential sound with an acoustic set up. Touré opened with an acoustic guitar, accompanied by the use of the calabash drum, complementing the hypnotic and considered tracks of Les Racines and Diarabi, off the album Ali. Touré then switched to his six-string Godin guitar - a hybrid instrument that combines electric and acoustic and is so masterfully blended into his sound. Watching him play both guitars was a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ phenomenon as his fingers seamlessly glided over the chords and strings - a craft he has undoubtedly inherited from his father. Despite the brilliant sound of his set, a visibly frustrated Touré expressed his annoyance with tech for feedback issues and lighting mishaps in-between songs. He was nevertheless in good spirits during his performance, wearing a cheeky grin with some very flash aviators and exchanging laughs with his musicians.


The crowd were seemingly none-the-wiser to feedback issues and kept expressing their love for Touré’s sound through constant cheers and movement. As with Khruangbin’s live sets, Touré’s show was great for watching some questionable but nevertheless entranced dancing that left you no option but to join in the fun. Touré’s set was a perfect end to a sunny day in Leeds and provided everyone with a chance to let loose to his breezy tunes. His music is perfect for the approaching, warmer days and I would recommend that everyone enter the Touré world of Ali and Vieux Farka’s music. It is an enduring family legacy that is gradually reaching wider audiences outside of Mali. Before his encore, Touré drew our attention to his charity Amahrec sahel, founded on the premise of providing Malian schoolchildren with books and supplies. This cemented his argument that as a musician, you are also an ambassador and reaffirmed why his music is so important for Malian and wider, global culture.


 

Words: Holly Greenwood


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