Real Rock Rebels

Tinariwen brings music banned from Mali to the UC Theatre.


Photo courtesy of Marie Planeille

Every rock star likes to think that he’s a rebel, a true original whose outrageous music is too real and raw for the establishment squares.

But let’s be honest: In these days of corporate hegemony, when perfectly bland pop groups are manufactured by backroom Svengalis and music is focus-grouped and test-marketed to find that perfectly marketable blend of edginess to attract fans without offending fogies, it’s hard for any artist to truly claim to be a rebel. Enter Tinariwen, an African band that shows the power of rock to still shake up the powers that be.

Composed of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert in northern Mali, Tinariwen updates traditional West African guitar-and-lute music with Arabic pop, Bollywood funk, and Western rock influences. But in 2012, when a militant uprising in the band’s native district of Mali tried to declare independence, the new rebel government cracked down on “Satan’s music.” The band was forced to flee—although guitarist Abdallah Ag Lamida was briefly captured while trying to rescue his instruments—and had to continue recording in exile, making the band literal rock rebels. Come hear the music Mali didn’t want you to hear when the band performs songs from its new 2017 album Elwan.

April 1, 8 p.m., $39.50, UC Theatre, 2036 University Ave., Berkeley.


Published online on March 28, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

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