Beirut – review

Academy, Manchester

"This is another one of those, er, singalongs," says Beirut's Zach Condon, sounding slightly embarrassed by what's going on around him. Once again, the cavernous Academy erupts into a choir of audience voices, with every second hand in the building raised into the air.

Writing songs that turn large crowds of adults into excitable, jibbering kids isn't the only secret of the New Mexican singer-songwriter-conceptualist's mercurial rise, which has seen his band go from playing small gigs in Knaresborough to one of Manchester's largest venues inside five years. Beirut are the encapsulation of a musical wanderlust that has taken Condon from Balkan folk to French chansons through to Mexican and Hispanic sounds. The brass section – fronted by Condon on trumpet – is pivotal, with more euphoria spreading around the venue every time the trumpets and trombones kick in. When a tuba arrives, adding a drunken wooziness to the sound, couples actually start waltzing.

Precedents for this music are hard to find. There are echoes of Sufjan Stevens; 25-year-old Condon's beautiful-yet-edgy croon is slightly reminiscent of David Byrne. Songs from their new album The Rip Tide are poppier than before, although the combination of sublime melodies and brass most brings to mind Brian Eno's 1970s vocal songs, if they were being played with the Brighouse and Rastrick band.

The lovely Nantes and Goshen and the particularly gorgeously crooned Cherbourg arrive to yet more rapture: songs that are like hazy, sepia-tinted snapshots of loves and losses along the journey. Instrumentals bring to mind both New Orleans jazz and the brassy funeral music that features in Mafia-related films as someone's head ends up in the pasta sauce. Then Condon raises his trumpet in delight, the house lights shine on the audience, and the arms go up again.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Beirut – The Rip Tide: album stream

Let us know what you think of Beirut's comeback record, their first studio album in four years

08, Aug, 2011 @2:37 PM

Article image
Beirut: Gallipolli review – Pinterest-friendly world indie
Zach Condon’s voice is as lovely as ever, on tracks soothingly yet dismayingly similar to past albums

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

01, Feb, 2019 @10:00 AM

Beirut, Roundhouse, London

Roundhouse, London

Maddy Costa

12, Nov, 2007 @9:47 AM

Article image
Beirut: The Rip Tide – review

Zach Condon reins in the raggle-taggle on Beirut's intriguing third album, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

20, Aug, 2011 @11:04 PM

Beirut – Santa Fe: Exclusive video

Watch the video for Beirut's new single Santa Fe, a homage to Zach Condon's hometown

09, Sep, 2011 @2:16 PM

Article image
CD: Beirut, The Flying Club Cup

(4AD) 4 stars

Dorian Lynskey

04, Oct, 2007 @11:06 PM

Article image
Beirut review – back to brass to tingle spines
Balkan mariachi days behind him, musical nomad Zach Condon brings horns and happiness to his band’s new pop direction

Betty Clarke

28, Sep, 2015 @2:58 PM

Article image
Cass McCombs – review

The eclectic and prolific underground artist shows he can be jawdroppingly beautiful and rip-roaringly deadpan, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

12, Jan, 2014 @2:54 PM

Article image
Ben Howard – review

The 26-year-old Devonian who won two Brit awards is so ambivalent about the spotlight he plays this gig in the dark, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

13, Jun, 2013 @4:52 PM

Fionn Regan – review
This Irish former Mercury nominee inspires a lot of love, and this show certainly conferred a touch of magic, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

21, Sep, 2011 @6:10 PM