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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Concert Review: Beirut at House of Blues

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 8:36 AM


While much of the city was still recovering from the long weekend, a special show was taking place at House of Blues last night.

For a little more than an hour, Beirut captured a filled room with its Balkan sounds, a complex cross of today’s '80s-influenced indie rock and Eastern European world music.

It’s rare that a band without a guitar can do this, but with an accordion, a three-piece brass section (which included a rotation of trumpet, flugelhorn, tuba, trombone, and french horn), drums, and bass, Beirut proved that you don’t need the typical band configuration.

Beirut is largely the brainchild of Zach Condon, the lead singer and principal songwriter, who graciously thanked the audience throughout the night as he shuffled between ukelele, fugelhorn, and keyboard.

But what makes the band so unique and memorable is the mix of accordion and horns, which echoed through the concert hall with a gusto and clarity rarely heard in a rock venue.

The band leaned heavily on its most recent album, The Rip Tide, but included songs from the previous two full lengths and EPs as well.

Songs like “Scenic World,” “Nantes,” and “East Harlem” sounded close to their studio versions, but with energy and enthusiasm that electrified the audience, thanks in large part to a sound mix that allowed each instrument to be heard.

The only disappointment was that by the time the band finished its three-song encore with “The Gulag Orkestar,” the first track off the band’s first album, the audience wanted more. Beirut could have easily continued for another 60 minutes but didn’t, leaving the audience to savor the brief time they were onstage. —Aaron Mendelsohn

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