Beirut: Leeds Irish Centre

Artist: Beirut
Venue: Irish Centre
Location: Leeds
Date: 08/11/2007

The first thought upon entering the Irish Centre is that a mistake must have been made. This doesn’t seem the place for indie scene hipsters; rather, the faded facade makes it a more suitable venue for bingo calls or ballroom dancing.

However, Beirut are far more at home than one would expect within these dignified yet staid surroundings. From set opener ‘Nantes’ it is clear that, despite his youthful appearance, lead singer Zach Condon has a strangely archaic vocal style that perfectly conveys the ambience of a faded past. Favourite ‘Elephant Gun’ quickly develops into a rousing sing-along.

Their multi-ethnic European influences set them apart from the indie norm, and the waltzing accordion perfectly complements their swooning brass section to create a carnivalesque atmosphere. The evening comes to an end as Condon places himself at the mercy of the crowd for a memorable encore featuring ‘Gulag Orkestar’ and a suitably Gallic rendition of Jaques Brel’s ‘Le Moribund’. As the band left the stage, silhouetted against a mesmerising wall of fairy lights, we realised that this was, in fact, the perfect setting to bear witness to the spectacle that is Beirut.

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