Gig Review: Beirut @ Manchester Club Academy, 6th November 2007

A funny thing happened on the way to the concert. There was a young couple in front of me on the way down to the basement of the University Union where the Club Academy is situated. When they reached the bottom of the stairs the young girl asked the guy collecting tickets what time Beirut were on. He pointed to the running times posted on the wall next to him which read:

Doors: 7:30

Jaymay: 8: 30

Beirut: 9:30

Curfew: 11:00

He then added that the support band were just about to come to which the girl replied “Which one?”.

“There’s only one” said the doorman at which point the boyfriend turned to go back upstairs to the bar.

“Hang on,” said the confused young lady as she grabbed his arm, “don’t you want to see The Doors?”

JayMay @ Club Academy, ManchesterJaymay, it turned out, was 15 minutes late, but put in a pretty good set, which was fortunate as I was massively put off by her name, what with it bringing to mind a certain twat in a certain hat. There are plenty of female singer-songwriters who play the same brand of acoustic folk but this slip of a girl in a big hoodie managed to win over the crowd with her tales of love and loss in her native New York City. A couple of songs stood out while the rest were amiable enough and at the passing of each song there seemed to be more and more cheers and less and less audience chatter.

Beirut @ Club Academy, ManchesterBeirut were magnificent. I wasn’t even looking forward to the gig that much as I never managed to really get into their debut album Gulag Orkestar, although their latest, The Flying Club Cup, has been slowly wheedling its way into my heart. This band, with their take on traditional Bavarian and French folk music (and I have no idea how authentic a sound they actually create), demand to be seen live. There were all manner of instruments on stage from ukeleles, trumpets and sundry horns to violin, glockenspiel and accordion and it was the instrumental passages in the songs that provided the triumphant rabble-rousing crescendos that got the crowd cheering mid-song and even hollering along to trumpet solos as in the brilliant “Postcards From Italy”. As I’d expected it was the new material that really left its mark on me from the opening “Nantes” to the splendid “Forks and Knives (la fete)” and the especially beautiful “In The Mausoleum”, a musical high point for the band full of yawning violins, stirring clarinets and anchored by a solid swinging double bass. At the heart of all this is the sickeningly talented Zach Condon who conducted his orkestar with a broad smile on his face giving the impression that he was enjoying this more than anyone else in the room, which he most probably was. Lucky bastard.

Beirut – Elephant Gun

Beirut – In The Mausoleum

35 Responses to “Gig Review: Beirut @ Manchester Club Academy, 6th November 2007”

  • beth Says:

    Dammit! I missed ‘Curfew’ – wonder if they were any good?

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    I can’t believe we didn’t know The Doors got back together. I wonder what Jim Morrison looks like these days?

  • The Ledge Says:

    I always seem to miss Curfew. They’re always on at such an unreasonable time. Some of us have to work in the morning, you know.

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    Oh damn, i missed ‘curfew’..feeling bad now.

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