Beirut – Manchester Academy – 6th September 2011

Posted on October 29, 2011


words by Robert Pollard – photography by Sam Ellis

For a long time now Beirut have astounded many of us with the quality of their output. They have an unerring ability to write songs that capture the past beautifully, and in Zach Condon they have one of the most talented musicians of this generation. They arrived in Manchester as part of a tour promoting The Rip Tide, their latest full length album, and the sell out crowd was left in no doubt that Beirut are back.

As soon as Zach Condon sang the first lines of ‘Scenic World’ it was clear that this was going to be a special night, with his mellifluous croon filling every inch of the room. His voice may be the most striking aspect of his repertoire but he is also a skilled musician, flitting between lead vocals, ukelele and trumpet with inspiring adeptness. The rest of the ensemble add brass flourishes that are as stunning as they are loud, and it is these moments which make the audience cheer with glee. Condon’s Morrissey inspired croon is rich and chocolatey and gives the band their edge, and tonight he is on great form.

The songs from the new album sounded great, fitting nicely into the rest of the beirut back catalogue. ‘Goshen’, ‘Santa Fe’ and ‘East Harlem’ stand out as the best of the new bunch, displaying more of a pop oriented approach than previous work, yet retaining much of the Balkan folk tendencies that helped Beirut garner a reputation of being a weird and wonderful band. Their european sound is pervasive as ever, and the loudest cheer of the night is saved for ‘Postcards From Italy’, simply one of the most gorgeous songs recorded in recent times. ‘Nantes’ also sounds as fresh as ever, however, the absence of the original drumbeat means it misses some of its drive.

The length of set was also notable, with the longest encore i’ve ever witnessed providing a fitting end to a lovely evening. Beirut have been considered a great band for many years, ever since their stunning debut and on this evidence their brilliance shows no signs of abating. Zach Condon has ideas flowing out of him and whilst other, much more feted bands come and go, losing momentum and fans in equal measure, Condon’s talent will ensure he can continue to write songs that delight his fans. The continued rise of Beirut is one of the great musical stories of recent times. What started as a bedroom project for the music obsessed Condon, has led to three brilliant LP’s and gigs of this magnitude with his ensemble of musicians. Beirut are back.

Watch the video for ‘Santa Fe’ here

Posted in: Music