This song will probably be looked at years from now as sort of an indie classic.
Beirut - Postcards from Italy
What a night.
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper was the virtually unknown opener of the night. As an artist, she’s as independent as the word “indie” suggests. Armed with just an electric guitar— no fancy loops or pedals— and her booming, gravelly voice, she set the night off in direct contrast to Beirut’s multi-layered sound. She’s got a few tricks up her sleeve; she can hold a note for a while and then abruptly cut it off, or throw out a line like, “My hair grew long so I fucking cut it!” At just 21, I believe she’s got some definite room for improvement later on. But you get a sense that she knows her limitations and boldly oversteps them anyway. I respect her courage.
Tonight was a night of firsts for Beirut: first stop on the tour, first time playing new songs, and apparently, the first time Zach has played piano in front of an audience. The band was super tight: they play amazingly off each other and you can just feel the chemistry. Given the range of instruments—they use accordion, French horn, trumpets, tuba, piano, bass, ukulele, and more—it’s quite important, or should I say, it’s quite essential to get a clear separation of instruments. It’s not just about the accordion’s lines, or Zach’s ukuleke, it’s about how they all synchronize to deliver an intense signature groove. Beirut is amazing at that.
Beirut played a varied setlist, cherrypicking from all over the catalog. We were treated with “Postcards from Italy,” “Mount Wroclai,” the jazzed up version of “Scenic World” released on the Lon Gisland EP, and an absolutely stunning performance of the title track of The Gulag Orkestar. I was hoping for a little more stuff from The Gulag Orkestar, but that’s okay, as most of the stuff recorded on Gulag was the work of a 19 year old Zach still finding his musical footing (In fact, some of Gulag’s songs don’t even have decipherable lyrics.). The Flying Cup Club’s stuff sounded great too, such as Nantes and A Sunday Smile, and we got some gems from the March of the Zapotec/Realpeople Holland EPs. I was sold on the new songs too; they were a lot less Balkan folk but still kept the brass section and the accordion integrated into the sound.
Cliquot didn’t get played; which is disappointing because it sports one of the best climaxes in indie music period, but that’s a small gripe given the wealth of great songs played. The set seemed to breeze by, but that was only due to the songs being so tightly written so that most of them hover around three minutes or so. All in all, I have no complaints with the show at all, and well really, it was simply flawless. I can easily slide this show into my top 5 of all time.
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