Published Jul 16, 2012Beirut's blend of modern indie pop and gypsy jazz would feel obnoxious -- befitting of France-bound elites discussing Derrida over wineskins -- were it not delivered with such panache, consistency and sophistication. The only problem? In recording, Beirut's songs often felt clinical, hardly befitting of the ramshackle charm often associated with Balkan folk.
Live, thankfully, Zach Condon's songs take on different personalities entirely. While Condon's baritone croon was pitch perfect, Beirut's two-hour set -- drawing equally from The Rip Tide and The Flying Club Cup -- took on a junk-shop charm, with Nick Petree's melodica, Condon's flugelhorn and Ben Lanz's trombone leading the way.
At their best, the band breathed life into Beirut standards, such as a tom-heavy reboot of "A Sunday Smile," but Condon's most engaging moment came when he took centre stage armed only with a ukulele -- a moment that, despite performing to a thousand-strong crowd, felt remarkably intimate.