Tamino Mesmerizes in Montreal

Tamino live in Montreal review by by Stewart Wiseman. The singer/songwriter played a solo show in Montreal on September 20th
Tamino photo by Youmna El Halabi

Tamino – Club Soda, Montreal QC – September 20, 2022

Whereas modern pop music is increasingly defined by harsh tempos, repetitive lyrics, and obnoxiously loud refrains, Tamino dares to deviate from the trend. On Tuesday night, the Belgian-Egyptian virtuoso provided a soulful and contemplative performance to a sold-out Montreal audience. While Tamino is still relatively under-the-radar in North America, he regularly sells out 1,000-seat theatres across Europe. Tamino’s concert at Club Soda attracted legions of expats from France, Belgium, and the Middle East who could not believe their fortune to witness Tamino perform in such an intimate venue.

Attention and focus are becoming two of the rarest qualities in today’s culture. Tamino’s audience however was markedly astute and patient, sitting in silent rapture as Tamino delivered passionate songs of love and loss in a stirring falsetto. The evening began with a haunting rendition of “A Drop of Blood,” which showcased Tamino’s mastery of the oud. In Europe, Tamino (who could pass for a Timothée Chalamet doppelganger) is normally accompanied by an all-star band, which includes Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood, however the smaller venues of this North America tour made bringing them overseas financially impossible. Instead, Tamino performed stripped-down arrangements of his songs, shining a newfound spotlight squarely on the lyrics.

Those gathered at Club Soda were treated to an hour of hushed folk-pop from one of Belgium’s brightest talents. Tamino has been labelled the “Belgian Jeff Buckley,” and songs like “Fascination” confirmed this moniker’s accuracy. “Fascination” was indeed one of the highlights of the night, along with “Tummy” from his 2018 album Amir. Both of these songs were augmented by Tamino’s crunchy electric guitar rhythms. Playing without a band, Tamino’s acoustic songs became sonically redundant by the end of the night, but these amplified songs raised the pulse of the room to new heights.

Tamino is gifted with the ability of speaking English, French, Flemish, and Arabic, but he may have missed an opportunity to connect with the Montreal audience in the city’s native language. Early in the set he spoke a few words in French, before stating, “maybe not everyone here speaks French, so I’ll continue in English,” which must have rankled any language hardliners in the audience during this politically fraught time in Quebec. Later in the evening, Tamino noted that the last time he played in Montreal he made it a point to visit Leonard Cohen’s grave. “It’s an honour to play in the home of Leonard Cohen,” he said. “This is a holy city.” The Cohen influence was most palpable on the moody “The First Disciple,” which features Tamino’s most noteworthy songwriting.

Tamino should brace himself for worldwide notoriety with the release of Sahar on Friday. After demonstrating his ability to evolve musically and lyrically over his previous releases, Sahar features his strongest collection of songs to date. Tamino introduced the audience to several of these songs on Tuesday night, including the irresistibly catchy “Cinnamon.” The loudest cheers of the night were reserved for his breakthrough single “Habibi,” which stirred the audience into a frenzy from its opening chords. Culminating with a falsetto that few vocalists could ever match, “Habibi” stands out as the definitive Tamino track, where the complete spectrum of his musical gifts are most on display. Showcasing his otherworldly voice and masterful finger-picking ability throughout the evening, Tamino left the audience with no doubt that he is a singular talent in pop music today.

Words by Stewart Wiseman

Tamino – Club Soda, Montreal QC – September 20, 2022
Setlist:

1. A Drop of Blood
2. Fascination
3. Cigar
4. The Longing
5. Tummy
6. You Don’t Own Me
7. Chambers
8. Cinnamon
9. Crocodile
10. Indigo Night
11. The First Disciple
12. Habibi
13. My Dearest Friend and Enemy
14. Only Our Love

Purchase tickets for Tamino HERE