Perhaps the most perfect moment of tonight’s show is when Zach Conlon and co waltz into unassuming 2009 mid-album track ‘The Shrew’. Sauntering in on majestic big band ‘oom pah pah’ trombone and wrapped in melodic trumpets, the song seems somewhat out of place, even by the band’s own standards, but at the same time nothing less than dazzling. Bodies in the crowd sway in time, before the soothing brass is swapped for racing trumpets to a finish line of sped-up mariachi mosh pit rhythms. It’s electrifying, perfectly arranged, captivating. A formula that Beirut have mastered live and showcase tonight from first song to last.
‘Scenic World’ starts a set mixing old and new, but it’s ‘Elephant Gun’ that provides the first serving of Beirut at their skin-tingling best. Tip-toeing in on a dimly lit and delicate ukulele intro, the track goes on to soar off the stage, with Conlon’s distinctive croon soothing the crowd.
Plenty of material from new album ‘No No No’ gets a run out including ‘As Needed’, ‘Perth’ and ‘Pacheco’, but it’s the title track that proves to be the biggest crowd pleaser, with its preppy upbeat hook and flecks of strings and brass.
The vast cavern of Brixton Academy seems to add to the grandeur of the band’s music, and framed by the ornate pillars and art-deco stylings of the stage, the whole performance carries an almost theatrical quality to it. What’s also clear is how fresh the band’s back catalogue sounds live. Tracks that sounded slightly thin on earlier albums sound revitalised live and even instrumental intros carry an infatuating cinematic feel.
Nothing less than stunning, Beirut’s live show is a unique and powerful spectacle.
Photos: Caroline Quinn
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