Sage throbbed to the beat of the African Soul Brothers in an evening that had a capacity audience hopping and bopping to a contrasting triple bill.

The group Tinariwen, dressed in elegant desert robes and turbans, got the rhythm flowing with hypnotic, guitar-driven Mali Blues. The Tuareg musicians, who took part in a desert rebellion in the early 1990s, evoked the desolation of the Sahara with powerful vocal harmonies, while one of their crew shivered, shook and swivelled beneath his robes in a brilliant display of dancing. The Senegalese group Daara J then stormed onto the stage, pumping up the energy by ten notches. Getting the audience to stand throughout their act, they had everyone in the palms of their hands, waving, punching the air, jumping up and down and dancing to cue. Faeda Freddy, N'Dongo D and Aladji Man bounded and twirled across the stage.

Hailed as the first African hip hop crew, their music straddles hip hop, reggae, R&B and rap; which the group say was "born in Africa, grew up in America and has now come back home". But, while the West rap scene has a reputation of gun culture and violence, Daara J's songs deal with social issues and the perils of globalisation. The Franco-Algerian singer Rachid Taha and his group, whose funky music combines rock punk and the strains of North Africa, rounded off the evening in fitting style.

Published: 23/02/2005