World Music: Khaled Astoria, London

Diminutive Algerian rai star Khaled (the Cheb prefix, implying a youthful apprenticeship, has been rightfully discarded) is now acclaimed as the King of Rai. He demonstrated his idiosyncratic blend of North African melodies delivered in an evermore European manner to a mixture of excited fellow-countrymen who, before the show, had attacked the front doors in frustration, and a crowd which had queued around the block. Topped with sublime melodies and laced with subversive lyrics (for those who speak Arabic), his tunes and nine-piece band - including horn section, rock guitar, keyboards and electric cello - overcame the soundman who, apparently, had his head buried in a bucket of sand, to deliver what seemed at times to be a stadium-rock version of the current hit album Sahra. The audience was inspired to wave cigarette lighters and arms in appropriate fashion from the first song onwards.

Receiving a delirious welcome to his only London gig, Khaled and his band showed how, aided by the production of such rock 'n' roll stalwarts as Don Was, his music has crossed into the mainstream. The nattily dressed Khaled, aided by cooling fans positioned on each side of the stage, led his exemplary band through a variety of moods - notwithstanding the soundman, who introduced each instrument some minutes after it started playing. They incorporate Iberian atmospheres, silvery trumpet solos, wailing rock 'n' roll guitar and a keening Northern African taksim vocal intro which led the audience to form human pyramids of ecstatic appreciation.

A moment's respite for a percussion and keyboard interlude led into the closing moments of the programme. Khaled's rather abrupt disappearance from the stage at the end of the set seemed to bewilder the crowd - a brief pause ensued before he and the band returned for a rendition of his mega-hit "Aicha". He coquettishly encouraged the obliging audience to sing the refrain of his first French-language hit before the true nature of his art was revealed by the final song "El Harba Win?" (Escape to Where?"), a tune adopted by Algerians in memory of the bloody 1988 riots. The very walls shook as he was moved to leap down into the audience and pass among the converted, causing evident concern among his security staff for their boss's welfare. He was among friends, however, and, despite the fact that the song started like the Rolling Stones at half speed, the band reached a frenzied and emotional climax.

A spokesman for those Algerians who have left their troubled country, Khaled's music speaks directly to both his fellow countrymen and to those who respond on a purely musical level - if you don't understand Arabic, put on your dancing shoes. These crossover gigs, however, do need a sympathetic soundcrew - the recent WOMAD event at the Barbican was marred by similarly cloth-eared technicians.

Martin Gordon

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk