I have not felt as satisfied or as hungry as when I walked out of Tripod last Friday evening, the showcase offered up by the New Mexico gang of skinny maestros was short but very sweet. The euphoria of drunken devilment washed over my gaping mouth as the harmonies, melodies, voices and instrumentation combined magically â€“ all urging you to greedily consume the gypsy buzz of it. Next thing you know, theyâ€™ve legged it off-stage left.
The troupe leader, Zach Condon, waving hysterically and bowing acknowledgements for an appreciative crowd. He came back for a comically horrendous attempt to give the fans more bang for their buck, which only left us baying for more.
Beirutâ€™s longevity-challenged history, and its preference for 3-4 minute songs, means its fans can find it still bright outside the venue a good half hour after the show. Even a complete memory lapse whilst rendering Jeff Buckleyâ€™s Hallelujah - in response to hollers for â€œmoreâ€ - only added to the good-feeling towards Condon (as the crowd took on the role of prompters to much glee all round), he literally could not put a foot wrong last night.
Condon staggered on-stage with swishing pint in one hand and sawn-off ukulele in the other, greeted the crowd, lowered his pint and realised he was without a pick, eventually managed to scrounge one, then lost it again after 6 bars. He cuts a slightly dishevelled figure, from his mop-head to the drain-pipe jeans. If you were female you would want to feed him potatoes (this has not been confirmed at time of going to press), his spindly frame affords a ghost-like countenance at times.
His plaintive banshee wailing throughout â€œGulag Orkestarâ€ lent an edge to proceedings â€“ as did the drummer (who resembled Sideshow Bob). As he then blasts you away with the trumpet you are reminded quick-sharp of his mortal status â€“ very much â€œaliveâ€ thanks. But just then â€œPostcards from Italyâ€ jinks into life and its another arrow from his quiver that strikes you down, the melody and serenity of his voice framed by the gorgeous accompaniment of wind instruments following in for the kill. It would be easy to believe the bandâ€™s website assertion that Zachâ€™s hospitalization for extreme exhaustion was the reason for a cancelled tour last year, one hopes his youth and vigour will not be entirely spent on organizing tours and sound-checking his â€œOrkestarâ€ around the world.
The creative genius which allows a 16 year old Santa Fe High School drop-out to travel Europe and be inspired by Balkan Gypsy music should be channelled in the creative spheres, not wasted on the logistical/financial nightmare that must be touring with a 10 piece band. But hey, who said it was gonna be easy anyway?
For a brief moment between songs my social conscience was pricked whilst watching hundreds of fashionably well-off arty types shift their weight from one foot to the other in time to the dreamy aural battering being handed down from above (the â€œTri-podâ€ stage is at least 5 foot high), in the full knowledge that not one of them (nor I, sadly) would take a second look at a real gypsy playing the same song on a street corner near you. Thankfully the moment passed. Bloody social conscience.
And now my writerâ€™s conscience is at me, for I cannot name the running order of the songs or the members of this riotous troupe of merry men and woman. I really have no excuse for this lapse, seeing as they have only written about 25 songs, other than for the fact that I decided to document the event afterwards and so took no notes.
The band members know who they are.
A word about the venue â€“ â€œproper Boâ€ for a gig. Reynolds understands the live musical event better than most promoters and has tweaked the Pod to include air conditioning, high stage, aural precision, accessible bar, etc. This all adds up to 24.5 of your hard earned Euros, a gig that would cost 10 dollars in the states.
Ah sure weâ€™re all minted anyway, arenâ€™t we?
Elephant Gun video from EP â€œLon Gislandâ€
Zach gives impromptu rendition of â€œPostcards from Italyâ€
Some live tracks from other Beirut shows…
and Brooklyn Vegan