Sunday, December 18, 2011

Show Review - Beirut - 12.10.11 - Altar Bar - Pittsburgh - Concert Review - Live Review

Two surprising sold out evenings with Beirut, two stellar shows. The location of the venue seemed suited for Beirut themselves. Housed at the Altar Bar, a refurbished Basilica Church, the band mixes Eastern European folk with indie and Mexican funeral. The opener for the evening was Perfume Genius, aka Mike Hadreas, whose bedroom music I have enjoyed for the past few months. Featured on Matador Records, PM is releasing a new album in February, but his performance this evening was overshadowed by a boisterous crowd. Not once could I discern his music, much less is lyrics. The capacity Pittsburgh audience didn’t let him have a chance (checkout the video). He would be better featured in a venue such as Club CafĂ© or Club Stage AE (not Brillo).

The audience was more respectful when Beirut made their appearance, cheering upon their entry before bringing it down to a hush tone for the first song ‘Scenic World’. Lead man Zach Condon led the six piece band which included among other instruments trumpet, tuba, trombone and accordion making a mix of their soviet mariachi sound. Their live performance transcends their albums bringing a mesh of warm and heavy sound without much improvisation from the band or banter between songs. The group was tight creating the passion and zeal for the sold out onlookers who hung on every note.

The 23 year old Zach Condon came out by himself for the encore beginning with ‘The Penalty’ on the ukulele. For such a young man he appears to have grown over the past several years understanding how to entertain, compared to other reviews at the early stages of his career. After the solo, the band arrived again and finished the set with ‘My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille’ and ‘The Gulag Orkestar’. The crowd showed their approval at every tune, replying with clear satisfaction until the set ended.

I didn’t realize how popular Beirut was until the surprising two sold out shows here in Pittsburgh. I could see them growing even larger and soon selling out a place like Heinz Hall where an older audience could appreciate them. Nothing but up for these youngsters.