Preview: Songhoy Blues @ Southbank Centre (London; Sunday 11th August 2019)

songhoyblus southbank

On Sunday 11th August 2019 at 7:30pm, Malian group Songhoy Blues will play their distinctive brand of desert groove rock in the beautiful surroundings of the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre, as part of Nile Rodgers’ Meltdown Festrival.

Although they can certainly be described as a desert blues band in the Tuareg tradition, Songhoy Blues remain difficult to pigeonhole, at times sounding nothing like a world music band. Most of their songs feature strong rock and roll influences – at times riffs can sound as though they are straight from a Black Keys’ track, and their first album, Music in Exile, pays tribute to The Clash covering classic rock song ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’.

While they can definitely channel a typical American rock band, their guitar-led sound retains strong Malian roots and grooves. Also, being Malian, the band are inherently political – they formed in response to exile from the north of Mali, after two military coups in 2012 resulted in a harsh Islamist regime banning music. Unrest continues to this day – more than 200,000 people have been displaced in Mali since the start of 2019.

Despite the sombre subject matter, Songhoy Blues play and perform with a joy and abandon that needs to be seen in the flesh. I’ve seen them twice over the past six years, the venue increasing in size each time, as the band continues to grow in popularity. Their musical talent is only matched by their infectiously energetic dancing, which always gets the crowd moving.

Tickets for the show are £25-£35 and are available here – get yours before they sell out.

 

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