They parked their van in the alley. They looked tired but peaceful; most had cigarettes hanging from their mouths. They were largely silent, shaking hands, unloading their instruments, and taking over Quentin’s apartment. Taking over: each finding a spot, on pillows laid on the floor, on the couch placed by the entrance to the room. Then they started to play.
By play, we don’t mean rehearse or soundcheck. We mean play: not once did we see Tinariwen prep or adjust. They arrived ready and didn’t show a single sign of nervousness. If they play, its cause its what they do to pass the time, and something they love doing. Once the winners showed up, once happy hour finished, they dressed up, illustrating that the show was about to start: t-shirts disappeared under their Touareg outfits, turbans were wound around heads. A bass and electric guitar worn over traditional blue satin outfits and Turkish slippers. On the carpet behind them, amplifiers.
In Touareg melodies and rhythms there exists a virtuosic control of energy. Tinariwen does not take you by surprise, they accompany you slowly, surely, make you lose your mind but first cradle you. There is an old man who is there to do just that: lay down the beat and structure the dance. Then there is an incredible singer, who came along even though he was sick and exhausted; though is priestly and thin, his command and presence are astonishing. There are younger musicians to take on an air of independence, take up the space, take you with them. You nod along, get up, and dance without thinking. That night, Quentin’s apartment was entranced, enchanted, bewitched.