Terakaft – Live @ Rich Mix
aaamusic | On 23, Feb 2016
Thursday 18th February, London
Terakaft’s initially postponed show at Rich Mix had them finally perform last Thursday to a crowd so mixed in demographics as to nearly reflect London’s diversity itself. The varied lot of colours, ages and creeds represented here was something splendid to behold as well as a cordial indication of the round trip such globally induced music has made. The occasion proved to be well worth the wait with the Malian legends returning for a performance that expressed a great warmth and surrounded by an air that was literally quite balmy.
I entered the main room which, thanks to whatever excitement preceded my late arrival, was already significantly heated and humid. Having an unfortunate clash in my commitments that day, I only walked into Rich Mix after the support act was done and dusted. Lining up to get my stamp before entering the main room, I head a punter ahead of me was ask if the air conditioning could be turned up, only to learn that it was already on full blast; about 350 bopping admirers seems to have that effect of negating all refrigeration.
Despite the looming knowledge that one may eventually have to face an uncomfortable mixture of the outside cold and sweat-dabbed garments, there was no holding back once the four musicians making up Terakaft’s line-up for this show walked onto the stage. Liya ag Ablil (aka Diara) and Sanou ag Ahmed took their places with the backup of their touring musicians on the drum kit and bass. It didn’t take long before the PA started belting out a percussive loop triggered by the drummer over the crowd and after the lone sample rang out a few phrases, each player at once jumped into the solid groove of ‘Tafouk Tele’.
The movement of the audience took shape through the second song. By implementing the simple clap-along from it’s start, the band successfully coaxed the audience into a relaxed but dynamic sway. This tactic of clapping felt much more potent with a band like this where lending a new periodic rhythm, no matter how simple, really does add to the overall sound and the engagement of the participators. The organic nature of the activity meant that before long a sweet spot was found in the atmosphere.
Terakaft effortlessly held on to this vibe while marching forward into less upbeat (but still danceable) songs ‘To My Brothers’ and ‘Kel Ahaggar’. Over time the music turned hypnotic and entrancing, enchanting each’s mind. This isn’t to say that there was a soul in the room that wasn’t fully present and participating. The range of dances mirrored the joyous variety of people and everyone including the band themselves wore a keen smile as they spun, clapped, grooved and let out jovial ululation.
Terakaft are a band born of the Sahara, it’s founders have weathered lives that encompass conflict and exile. The songs play off the endless sands of the Tuareg desert lands and feature lyrics detailing the lives of families displaced, violence ensuing and defying hostile militants. These are cogently authentic desert blues and yet there was a sense of overcoming through the music on this night as each person, band and audience member seemed to be feistily excited to feel a part of the mystical Saharan magic happening on stage.