(with Tinariwen) - Manchester Academy 2 - Friday 20th March
When I walked into the empty school hall type venue that is the Academy 2 I could smell the scent of jos sticks very strongly wafting across the room.
Perhaps this is why it was empty?
By the time the support act had left the stage however and the room had gone from being empty to being uncomfortably packed, there were many more odours to be savoured, not all of them pleasant!
The double headliner gig which sees Tunng share both stage and songs with Tinariwen (to form Tunngariwen..?) is kicked off by just Tinariwen and much of the crowd who would have looked more at home in front of the Jazz stage at Glasto were swaying and grooving away in approval.
After checking that we were enjoying ourselves with a simple “Is okay, yeah?” Tinariwen are joined by Tunng which encourages a huge cheer from the now extremely large crowd.
Having not heard a great deal of Tinariwen’s music but having enjoyed what I’d heard so far, I was excited to see what the collaboration might sound like but disappointingly, the first 45 minutes or so of what was to become an extremely lengthy set was very hit and miss.
“Tunngariwen” performing Tinariwen songs got a great reaction with Tunng’s additions working well, particularly vocally. Many of the Tunng songs, however seemed to lose all the charm and quirkiness that makes up much of their appeal.
The last half of the gig felt a bit more consistent and picked up a bit more pace than the first half although it wasn’t really until one song before the encore when they play “Bullets” (Tunng) that it really comes to life and for me this was the peak of the performance which should have been reached long before this point.
A brave and interesting collaboration but ultimately one which still has some barriers to break between styles before achieving a consistently happy middle ground.