Beirut at MTELUS, Feb 15 2019

Beirut is an American band that mixes multiple styles such as indie rock, pop and American folk. Whatever this band experiments with musically, the highlight is always the multi-instrumentalist talents of frontman Zach Condon and the abundant horns in their records. The band was touring in support of their fifth album Gallipoli, named after the town in Italy where they spent some time recording. The twelve songs in this album are smooth, instrumentally rich and take you back to warm summer days. This album is not particularly innovative, but more of a continuation of the band’s previous pieces. If you want to escape these cold winter days that seem to drag on forever with harmonious musical beats, I recommend you give this album a go.

The night opened with Helado Negro, which was fitting to prepare the audience for Beirut, as they also alternate between various instruments and sounds. I could tell from the beginning that the people in the audience were there for the music, but not to dance or sing along. As per usual, no one paid attention to the opening act at first, but he eventually caught everyone’s attention with beautiful lights and deep electric vocals.

When Beirut came out, my assumption was confirmed: everyone was really there for the music, all were mesmerized by the music, the lights and his voice. No one danced or sang along -I don’t think anyone knew the lyrics– but the audience made sure to express excitement through loud applauds and screaming. He opened up with the album’s first song “When I Die,” which talks about him being a new man who’s grown, setting the perfect mood that the audience was hoping for.

Throughout the show the band mostly played songs from Gallipoli, but they didn’t leave out their hits familiar to the audience. Condon closed the show with “Nantes,” their most popular song, followed by an instrumental outro song. Also, I can’t leave the criers out, as there were too many to omit. I guess if Beirut’s music doesn’t make you feel something, there might be something wrong with you. Maybe crying should be just left for the true devotees, but you could tell right away that the audience was experiencing some emotions.

Zach Condon’s voice live is surprisingly better than recorded, and the sound system at MTELUS is really shines with Beirut’s music. Condon’s social skills however are not very strong. His interaction with the audience were awkward, but he still managed to charm Quebecers with some French phrases. The audience went crazy after Condon’s “Bonsoir Montreal j'espère que vous êtes bien. Je suis très content d'être ici!” Of course, a weather remarked followed, how could you resist when these frigid temperatures is the first thing you experience when you land in Canada. The show was further enhanced by the lights effect synchrony with the music and Condon’s voice. In response, the audience (including myself) was beyond captivated by it and Condon’s ability to alternate between instruments, thus making up for his lack of words.