Omeara is a young venue, just about two years old, and this evening it’s hosting a young artist, 22 years old Tamino, who is here to play songs from his debut album, just a few months old. Tamino has been called a ‘new Jeff Buckley’ which feels like an idle comparison. Sure there are some similarities; Tamino plays the guitar, though not as raw and anarchic as Buckley did. Tamino is also beautiful, and from some angles, he shares a slight likeness with Buckley. But most of all, it’s his voice that can easily reach the same highs that Buckley so sublimely mastered. There’s also a shared influence by Arabic music, which in Belgian-Egyptian Tamino’s case is not just a musical interest but actually in his genes.
But to be honest, if I hadn’t read an article that compared Tamino to Buckley, I probably wouldn’t have drawn that comparison myself. Throughout the concert, I catch myself thinking more of Radiohead and especially Thom Yorke’s emotional vocals as a reference point to Tamino’s vocals and song structures.
Tamino enters the stage with his two bandmates, Ruben Van Houtte on drums and Vic Hardy on keyboards, and plays the opening chords to Persephone. He’s lit up from behind by a bright light and otherwise surrounded by darkness, a simple but effective trick that sets the mood for an evening of melancholy songs straight away.
On this evening he’s not one of the chattiest singers I’ve seen in concert. Most of his in-between-songs banter consists of a few ‘thank you’s’, and fittingly, he at one point says, ‘no words’ when the audience cheer and clap particularly enthusiastically. There’s a kind, familial atmosphere in the 350-people venue, and it feels like it could easily be a large gathering of relatives at a party. At one point, the girl next to me asks if I want to watch her bag as she goes to the bathroom. I’ve never met her before, but I happily oblige. People smile friendly at each other, and no one here seems to be here to pose or play it cool – frankly, the vibe in here is too warm to play it cool.
Tamino seems genuinely grateful to be our focal point, and maybe that’s part of the reason he hardly speaks. Luckily Tamino saves the words for his songs instead, like the beautiful Habibi, a song with one leg firmly placed on Arabic soil and another leg stomping to the beat of the western world of pop and rock.
Tamino’s debut album is a fine collection of songs, and they are given royal treatment in a live setting. I’m already excited to hear what he comes up with on his next album. With his voice and ear for constructing beautiful melodies, Tamino has the potential to do something exceptional. And he’s not just in command of his songs. For the encore, Tamino comes back alone and plays, as he says, ‘one of my favourite songs’, Chris Cornell’s Seasons, which his stunning voice effortlessly makes his own for a little while.
2. Sun May Shine
4 . Each Time
6. So It Goes
10. Indigo Night
11. Will of This Heart
13. Seasons (Chris Cornell cover)