I was present at the above show in the Olympia on Thursday night thanks to Ben from The Leaf label. Unfortunately I only caught the last 30 seconds of A Hawk and a Hacksaw (what I heard sounded great) but at least they re-appeared later as a part of Beirut’s set.
So what I think of the music blogpshere’s find of the year? In short, Beirut were excellent and showed up Calexico’s tired and frankly boring set. It was a delight to see Zack Condon’s young troubadours give it plenty with their array of ukeleles, trumpets, percussive instruments, keyboard, cello, violin and accordion. Considering that 20 year old Zack played all of the instruments on the album himself (which is an amazing feat) and the band’s first show was by all accounts shambolic, it’s great to see how they’ve grown into a tighter unit.
If I’m honest, none of the songs I’d heard from him grabbed me in the last six months until I heard “Postcards from Italy” and seeing them live also helped make more sense of the band. Their Balkan influenced songs sounded great in majestic decor of the Olympia. Zack was also clearly revelling in the ability to legally drink outside the States. They played a lot of the properly-released-this-week album Gulag Orkestar and ended their set with a rousing cover of the theme song from Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil with the band member with the self-confessed Jeffrey Dahmer glasses banging his gypsy tambourine in the audience. An excellent set.
Beirut – Postcards from Italy live
A few words about Calexico. I love the album Feast of Wire but anything new from the band seems to be a lot less distinctive. I got quickly bored of the new songs they played but when they did play a tune I knew, I thought singer Joey was over-stressing the lyrics to the point of annoyance. I spent the rest of the night in the bar after that. Their visuals were pretty good though!