Mdou Moctar Brings His Guitar Virtuosity To NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series

Since the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series has gone remote due to the pandemic, performers from all around the world have been more easily able to participate. Niger guitarist and singer Mdou Moctar is fresh off releasing his latest album, Afrique Victime, last week, and now he’s fresh off a new Tiny Desk performance, which was filmed in Niger.

The three-song set features “Ya Habibti,” “Tala Tannam,” and “Afrique Victime.” Mikey Coltun, Moctar’s bass player and producer, says of the performance, “The concert was filmed outside of the house we were all staying at in Niamey, Niger, in November/December 2020. As with any sort of musical happenings in the region, once some music is blasted, that’s an invitation for anyone to come join, sing, clap, dance, and just come together as a community. We wanted to present the Tiny Desk exactly like this, from when we started playing to finally the energy growing with fans crowded around filming on their cell phones and passing around Tuareg tea.”

In his review of Afrique Victime, Uproxx’s Steven Hyden notes of Moctar’s guitar skills, “Afrique Victime is loaded with moments where Moctar steps out of the song in order to ram his guitar directly into your guts. He does this for emotional effect, bending and blurring notes with the furious energy that defines one of his most obvious influences, Jimi Hendrix. But you suspect that Moctar also believes that ripping off a sick solo is extremely dope, which on this record it absolutely is.”

Watch Moctar’s Tiny Desk performance above.

Afrique Victime is out now via Matador. Get it here.