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Sunday 15 May 2011

How Do They Doueh That?

So my prediction that Azerbaijan would win Eurovision turned out to be accurate. The rest of the voting, however, was just as baffling as ever. How on earth could Italy finish second, and how could anybody except the Cypriots and Stereo Mike's mum vote for the Greeks?

On Friday night Mister F and I were at the Barbican for a concert that, in its way, was every bit as weird and wonderful as Eurovision. We were there to see Group Doueh, the "desert rock" combo from Western Sahara. The group is led by ace guitarist and tinidit player Salmou Bamaar, known as Doueh to his friends, and includes his wife Halima Jakani on lead vocals, son El Waar Bamaar on keyboards and three female backing vocalists/ percussionists.

They were generally very good. They had a tendency to start off each song rather ragged before gradually converging and latching on to a groove. When it worked it was great. However there were a couple of numbers where they never quite converged and it all sounded a bit messy. Their third number - no idea what it was called - was basically an unholy row from start to finish.

Visually the three backing singers were the highlight. There was a big one, a sultry one and a mad one with big specs. They took it in turns to wander around the stage and, to paraphrase British case law on vicarious liability, go on a frolic of their own (by which I mean, in the words of that even more learned authority K.C., they did a little dance and got down tonight). During the course of the evening the mad one with big specs got increasingly carried away with enthusiasm. She stole the show and stole my heart.

Despite its occasional shortcomings, I enjoyed the show enough to enjoy their latest album, "Zayna Jumma" (out now on Sublime Frequencies, folks!). It is a pretty fair reflection of the show, minus the frolicking dancers. It doesn't always work for me, but when it does it is pretty groovy. See for yourselves.

"Zayna Jumma" - Group Doueh

"Ishadlak Ya Khey" - Group Doueh

A quick mention of the support act, the Turkish psychedelic rock trio Hayvanlar Alemi. They were a bit lost on the big stage - having no stage show to speak of - and their music got a bit lost in the big concert hall. It is the sort of stuff that I imagine would sound great in a small sweaty club, but on this occasion they did not do a lot for me I'm afraid. With the notable exception of their freaked out version of this cheesy old standard.


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