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Watch Mdou Moctar‘s stripped-down 30-minute Boiler Room session – complete with improvised solo

Mdou Moctar
(Image credit: YouTube / Boiler Room)

Mdou Moctar has released a new solo performance video in conjunction with the UK YouTube channel Boiler Room – and it closes with an incredible lead workout.

The Niger-born guitarist and songwriter played a 30-minute set comprised of Tala Tannam, Ya Habibti, Taliat and Asdikte Akal from his 2021 album Afrique Victime, as well as Anna, which was taken from Moctar’s previous album and US breakthrough record, Ilana (The Creator).

The informal performance – to the point that the vocals go un-mic'd – was filmed on the dunes outside of the city of Agadez, Niger and closes with an improvised guitar solo (at about 27:35) that gives viewers a rare, unobscured glimpse of a Moctar lead workout.

During the final minutes you can see Moctar folding some lightning fast shred techniques and Hendrix-like bends from the rock world into the scales and cycling progressions of the Sub-Saharan region. 

Moctar is usually accompanied by his band, and a large part of his playing depends on the push and pull of that group, so it’s fascinating to see how the guitarist works up this solo improvisation. Further evidence of Moctar’s position among the world’s best players.

As with many musicians in the pandemic, Moctar has shared footage of several full band live performances this year, including a sun rise show on the banks of the Niger River, an acoustic Tiny Desk Concert and a full 45-minute set recorded in Niamey, Niger's capital.

You can catch the guitarist in person on tour in the US and Europe throughout 2022. Head to Mdou Moctar's official website for the list of dates and ticket links.

Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.