Tuesday, June 03, 2008

BEIRUT'S HOMECOMING

BEIRUT at CSF 10-25-06
I was too busy blogging about late-breaking election stuff last night so I forgot to grab my camera before going to the Santa Fe Brewing Company. So I have to use this old photo I took from last time I saw Beirut, back in 2006.

But seeing Beirut was a perfect way to spend the night before the election. (I ran into a couple of other news dogs there doing the same thing.)

That's the most crowded I've ever seen the Brewing Company. They actually wee turning people away at the door. The show, fortunately, was on the outside stage.

Beirut, of course, is led by Zach Condon, who grew up here in Santa Fe (although some stupid national publications list his hometown as "Albuquerque" -- kind of like some of those Junior Brown bios I've seen that don't even mention New Mexico.) He didn't get well-known however until he moved to New York. There, inspired by Balkan brass bands he'd seen in his European travels and in movies by Emir Kusturica.

Last night's show wasn't nearly as intimate as the College of Santa Fe performance I saw back in 2006. At that earlier show the audience was just a fraction the size of the Bewing Company crowd. At CSF there wasn't a stage, so the band was at the same level of the audience and it was sometimes hard to tell where one started and the other ended.

Still, it's great to see how Beirut's audience has grown -- and how the sound has grown too. They've still got that Balkan spirit, but there's influences from all over the place. At one point Zach announced that his next song would be in Portugese. I thought it sounded familar, and sure enough it turns out to be a tune I first heard on David Byrne's first Luaka Bop Brazilian compilation Beleza Tropical -- Caetano Veloso's "O Leaozinho." Beirut does a fine version of it. (I found a YouTube version of it, recorded just a couple of weeks ago. Check it out below.) Last night's concert inspired me to listen to Beleze Tropical this morning. Now I realize there are several songs here that would sound good as Beirut covers.

And I was happy that Beirut still does a rousing version of Kocani Orkestar's “Siki, Siki Baba,” my favorite song from the Borat soundtrack.

Condon, on the Beirut Web site has said he's going to be making some changes with the basic concept of the band. (Maybe they'll go Hawaiian. They already have the ukes!) I hope he keeps most the current members. I'm amazed how they constantly swap instruments and how so many of them are proficient on so many instruments.

This is a great week for music at the Brewing Company. Laurell's going to sub for The Santa Fe Opry Friday night so I can see X and The Detroit Cobras.

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday, Lee Harvey!

Lee & Marina: I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride ... Seventy eight years ago today, in the city of ...