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Beirut, Eat Your Own Ears, tUnE-yArDs at O2 Academy Brixton Review

BEIRUT

There is an undeniable sense of pride and ownership in the room for Beirut’s first performance at Brixton Academy. Unlike some who would prefer their favourite band to remain their little secret, Beirut’s fans are vigorous promoters whose devotion has helped them to graduate from midday festival slots and their ubiquitous role as a ‘quirky’ support act to bona fide headliners.

Brixton hosts the final night of Beirut’s three week European tour promoting their third album The Rip Tide, a tour which has seen them playing larger venues than they are accustomed to. Any questions of whether or not they will be able to rise to the occasion are laid to rest once the band make their way onto the stage to rapturous applause and begin to fill every inch of the venue with their eclectic sound.

The majority of the tracks performed are taken from The Rip Tide, but for such a new band Beirut already possess an impressive back catalogue and as such they play a pleasing mix of old and new material. The set itself feels quite short, a mere hour and a half with a three song encore and an acoustic ukulele version of The Penalty performed by lead singer Zach Cordon as a treat for the fans.

In terms of sheer musical ability it is impossible to find fault with the show. Unlike other bands who seem to think skinny jeans, daft hair, worse tattoos and a basic understanding of power chords are enough to justify having a record contract, Beirut are actual musicians. Each song is beautifully crafted from a unique mix of Balkan folk, brass band jazz and indie rock and performed with harmonious perfection to the deeply appreciative crowd.

The problem lies elsewhere, there can be no doubt that Beirut are on the brink of major success, and tonight’s show certainly proves that. But for a band that seems to have all the talent and charm in the world there is still the inescapable feeling that a piece of the puzzle is missing when watching them live. Perhaps this is the only downside of their complete lack of rock star arrogance.

Zach Condon cuts an awkwardly charming figure on stage, no Gallagher style posturing or Morrissey inspired soliloquys, choosing instead to modestly say thank you every so often between songs.  Whilst this does make him instantly amicable it also proves that he has yet to grow comfortable with the idea of holding the crowd in the palm of his hand.

Despite possessing a talent well beyond their years Beirut is still a young band. The next few months will be vastly important for their development as a live act, as the venues and crowds continue to grow so too will the expectations placed upon them.  Beirut are clearly ready to move up to the next level of success, they may actually be there already, they just need to realise this themselves.

Elliot Hyams

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