Damon Albarn plays gig in Mali despite terrorist threat

Blur frontman performed at the Festival Acoustik in Bamako over the weekend

Blur frontman Damon Albarn played a festival show in the African country of Mali over the weekend despite the nation being under a nationwide state of emergency.

Mali’s capital of Bamako suffered a terrorist attack two months ago when extremist gunmen killed 20 people in an attack in a hotel on November 20.

Despite the increased security fears, Malian musician Toumani Diabate continued with plans for the Festival Acoustik, which featured performances from Albarn, Tony Allen and others.

“It’s very important for me, for us, to get Malian culture going,” said Diabate, as reported by The Telegraph. “You see Mali is the heart of culture in Africa.”

“I’m fascinated by [the festival],” Albarn told AFP. “It’s very tangible to me because of the music and the value of the music.”

Watch Albarn’s interview in full below.

Albarn will also perform live with the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music at a special gig in London later this year.

The performance will take place at London’s Southbank Centre on June 25, with conductor Issam Rafea leading the orchestra and a host of special guests promised. The gig is presented by Albarn’s Africa Express project and co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW and Holland Festival.

In 2010, Albarn’s Gorillaz project became the first British band to play in the Syrian capital of Damascus, performing a special gig at the Citadel, an 11th Century fortified palace.
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