Last year, Beirut's first album was a beacon of light in a skinny-jeaned indie world. It seemed oblivious of it's contemporary musical context with its myriad of cultural references but unfortunately the follow up continued the concept all too closely and the love affair dwindled. Well last night it was reignited.
Any band lucky enough to play at the Camden Roundhouse starts off with at least one star for the venue alone, but the points soon notched up as the multi-instrumental troupe assembled on stage. From the first blasts of the trumpets my heart was confused. I felt like I was on holiday and stumbled across a local band and yet I was looking at a young punk in an unassuming jeans and t-shirt who looked like he'd been dragged from the crowd by someone shouting 'come on Zach, you can sing Balcan music.' As the slow notes rang out I imagined drowning my sorrows in a small fishing port with my fellow villagers as we bid farewell to the brave men soon to set sail, even though we all new some of them would not return. And when the tempo rose it was like we were celebrating their return.
There wasn't the slightest hint of pretension with this band. As Zach Condon took to the stage to a rapturous crowd he launched head long into this beguiling music. With trumpet slung over shoulder his voice seemed to be coming from another time, another culture and another body. In between vocals he would join his band in an onslaught of triple trumpets and the hair stood proud on the back of my neck, there was even a triple ukulele showdown on Brandenburg. Songs from the debut Gulag Orkestar brought the loudest cheers with treats like The Canals Of Our City sounding like a million heart strings playing in unison. Postcards From Italy was a whirling cacophony of musical pleasure that from its first pluck of the ukulele had the crowd swooning in pure middle-class joy.
It really is hard to fault this experience. Aside from Condon's effortless presence and spectacular voice the music that surrounded him was spectacular. Crisp and clear it raised the roof of this unique and truly fitting venue. As I queued for the toilet after all this had drawn to a close, the R'n'B playing faintly over the stereo was an affront to my ears (even more than usual) and I realised that it was going to be hard rejoining the world after such an all encompassing and magical experience.