It’s not often that my hometown of Edinburgh is fortunate enough to play host to the greats of African music, but during Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival this year, Vieux Farka Touré played in both cities.
Despite his name, Vieux Farka Touré is actually Farka Touré jnr – the son of internationally acclaimed Malian singer and guitarist, Ali Farka Touré. Against his parents’ wishes, Vieux is following in his (now deceased) father’s enormous footsteps and has successfully developed an equally international career as a guitarist. His first album featured both his father and fellow-Malian world music superstar, Toumani Diabaté.
It can’t be easy stepping on stage after the warm up act has played a tribute to your dad, but I suppose Vieux Farka Touré is used to it by now. Accompanied by a bassist with funky dreds and a white percussionist, once these guys get going, they really let rip!
Vieux’s fingerstyle guitar playing reached an incredible intensity, but it was more about dexterirty than speed. There were the rocking rifs of the Sahara blues but also rolling calypso-style melodies to remind us all of the West African origin of Afro-Caribbean beats.
The set featured tracks from all three albums, but majored on the most recent, last year’s The Secret. Tracks from that album included Ali, All the Same, Touri and Gido. Despite the visceral beats of the calabash which opened the set, the largely white, foot-tappingly polite Edinburgh audience took a while to get going. But eventually the crowd went crazy and only reluctantly allowed the band off stage after their encore.
A version of this review also appears on my Edinburgh reviews blog, mikanqueenreviews4U.
© Lynn Sheppard (words and pictures)