Beirut – The Powerstation January 16, 2012

If the rather reserved nature of Beirut’s most recent album, The Rip Tide, was any indication, we were in for a somewhat detached, dispassionate performance when the New Mexico-based band came rolling into town. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. It was obvious from the moment they stepped on stage that the six-piece band, led by Zach Condon, was having the time of their lives playing together and that enthusiasm quickly spread throughout the crowd.

After a sharp, well-delivered set by Tono and The Finance Company, Beirut took the stage at about 10pm. Zach Condon was clutching his trumpet, while the rest of the band consisted of Perrin Cloutier (accordion), Nick Petree (drums), Paul Collins (bass), Kelly Pratt (trumpet & French horn) and Ben Lanz (trombone, sousaphone and piano). Condon played his trumpet along with the ukulele and the piano. There was nary an electric guitar in sight the entire night.

They began with Scenic World from the first Beirut album, 2006’s Gulag Orkestar. Then came The Shrew from 2009’s March Of The Zapotec, sounding like a drunken waltz. Cloutier’s accordion set the tone for Elephant Gun, before the twin trumpets of Condon and Pratt took over.

After Vagabond, from last year’s The Rip Tide came more mariachi-style trumpet blasts in Postcards From Italy. When the song ended, Condon tried a bit of the local lingo, managing a “sweet as” before playing a subdued East Harlem. The audience was primed to sing along when they slide into A Sunday Smile from 2007’s The Flying Club Cup.

The continental vibe continued with The Concubine and Mount Wroclai. Again, the accordion took over during Nantes.  Condon slowed things down as he disappeared behind the upright piano for a reflective Goshen. An hour after they started, the band closed out the regular set with a crowd-pleasing Santa Fe.

The encore began with Condon alone with his ukulele singing The Penalty. When the band reappeared, bass player Paul Collins came to the mic, thanking promoter Matthew Crawley for showing them a good time during their stay in New Zealand. Then came a rousing My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille and more mariachi horns during The Gulag Orkestar. The closing instrumental featured a rare sousaphone solo leaving the crowd happy and satisfied.

This was one of the most joyous nights of live music I’ve witnessed in quite a while. The positive energy given off by the band and reciprocated by the audience made The Powerstation THE place to be on this fine Monday evening. Great stuff.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Beirut perform Santa Fe at The Powerstation: 

Setlist:

  1. Scenic World
  2. The Shrew
  3. Elephant Gun
  4. Vagabond
  5. Postcards From Italy
  6. East Harlem
  7. A Sunday Smile
  8. The Concubine
  9. Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)
  10. Nantes
  11. Port Of Call
  12. Cherbourg
  13. Goshen
  14. After The Curtain
  15. Santa Fe
  16. The Penalty
  17. My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille
  18. The Gulag Orkestar
  19. Instrumental