A wonderfully spirited performance
Beirut - Live At Manchester Academy 1 by Giles Smith

With only a few shows on their UK tour, there is limited opportunity for those eager to see young Zachary Condon and his continental collective. It seems a diverse crowd tonight; a draw that can be expected from such an artist.

The lights go down and so begins accordionist Perrin Cloutier with opener ‘Scenic World’, and the ever-distinctive voice of Condon sings, “The lights go on, the lights go off”. It is not until the first burst of brass ensemble that one is excited for what might be in store from here.

The first glimpse from their recent release, ‘The Rip Tide’, is the delightfully buoyant ‘Vagabond’. Crowd responds in kind; a gentle sea of people bobbing up and down on the spot.

The moment Condon dons his ukulele and strums the intro to ‘Postcards From Italy’, up goes a fond cheer. Arms are waving and voices unite to the unforgettable trumpet melody of the closing section – a melody such that everyone is joining in. With the weight of a full band behind him, this is a live music moment to remember.

Not long after is ‘Nantes’, the magnificent opener to 2007’s ‘The Flying Club Cup’. Again, when the song gets into its stride, it goes one step further than anything on record: passionately and emphatically played by all involved.

New material in the form of ‘Santa Fe’ (arguably the ‘pop’ track of the record), ‘East Harlem’ and ‘Goshen’ are aired, acting a gentle introduction to a spectacular encore. With a large repertoire of relatively short songs, the set seems to race through at some pace, but everyone leaves gratefully having witnessed a wonderfully spirited and euphonious performance.

Words by David Smith
Photos by Giles Smith

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