When it comes to criticism, Sydney has had its fair share.
In particular its CBD has been maligned for a lack of soul and culture since the lockdown laws made it difficult for any semblance of excitement to emerge, and the last couple of years have only served to make the situation worse.
Add in the terrible weather of the past few months and there you’d be forgiven for writing off the Harbour City for good.
However, there was a sigh of relief on Monday — as a warm wind whipped the sails of the Opera House and a truly astounding act came to town.
Tamikrest — hailing from the depths of the Sahara desert and featuring musicians from Mali, Niger, Algeria and France — graced Australia’s shores for the first time, and put on a spellbinding performance at the world-famous venue.
They combine the music of the desert and Western Africa with influences from western music like Pink Floyd and the hard rock of the 1970s. You can hear funk, reggae and country influences in there too.
Smoke billowed out from the edges of the stage as an eerie red dusty lighting gave the audience the impression they were gathered around a campfire.
The three-piece opened the first half of their set with an acoustic performance that packed a punch and had heads in the sold-out crowd slowly bobbing.
If anyone came expecting three-minute hit songs, they came to the wrong show. This was an aural feast with jams that extended past 20 minutes and guitar solos that left the hairs on your neck standing on end.
After a few chilled numbers the real rock show began — the Gibson Les Paul came out, the drum kit was unleashed and the bass was cranked up to 11.
They hit a groove that was hypnotic, the guitar solos spanned five minutes at a time and the whole 90-minute show was so fun it felt as if it lasted five minutes.
There was also a serious side to the music that the band said reflected the difficulties and turmoil of living in the desert.
Before departing, the leader of the band Ousmane Ag Mossa gave an extended speech in his native Tamashek tongue that was translated by the drummer.
He spoke of the life in the Sahara including living among terrorist groups and a dire healthcare and educational situation. He went on to say how music helped connect their experiences with the rest of the world and dedicated the final song to the children of the desert.
It was a special night that showed that although Sydney has its issues, it can be a spellbinding place too.
Story Credit: news.com.au