Rachid Taha and Vieux Farka Tour?© – Barbican, London (Live Review)

Rachid Taha stormed the Barbican and got this venue’s sometimes stiff crowd on its feet by his second song and didn’t look back after that

The night began with the London deb??t of Vieux Farka Tour?© on the same stage where his father played his last ever gig — and certainly one of the most magical –before his death. Unusually for the Barbican, the sound engineer failed to deliver the clean and crisp sound needed for the young Malian’s music to shine on this occasion. Instead a leaden and bass heavy sound dulled the performance. There were magic moments though of blues guitar virtuosity but too little of the originality and sparkle that marked his recently released CD.
Rachid Taha came in with a bang and rarely let up. Which is about the only way to do a great gig at a seated venue, you have to get people to their feet and excited to be there. Thin, charismatic and swaggering with the erratic style of a seventies pimp on a night out in Harlem, Rachid had a big band of superb musicians each expecting the best of each other as they dashed between distinctively North African sounds to hard rock verging on heavy metal, through electronica reminiscent of The Prodigy and then crashing through the songs Rachid Taha is best known for.
His special guest was none other than Mick Jones of The Clash, who fumbled his way through ‘Ya Raya’ before ‘Rock the Casbah’ kicked off a full-on frenzy of post-punk energy. Taha’s rockeur axemen on bass and guitar traded licks with Mick Jones in what was clearly a mutual lovefest and a rollicking treatment of a tune that was pretty rockin’ to start with.
A classic gig all told and evidence, if it were needed, of why Rachid Taha is still at the top of his game after all these years.

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