Beirut @ Avalon, 10/11/07
That his strange, brilliant, Old World-rooted records even exist was only the first victory. Now, back in Los Angeles, that the Beirut 16-legged live monster pulls it off live with bravado, aplomb and charm, with yukes and lutes and strings and horns of all shapes and registers and bells and the cheapest damn drum kit Sam Ash sells en tow, is almost extraneous, because tonight, tonight, it’s the mere Turning Out of the people, their people, our city, for not one, but two nights, in this good sized room, in this city, our city of angels and angles, a city widely derided for supposed shortcomings on various cultural fronts, this is the real victory, this Turning Out, by you, yes you, probably, the latest of example of if-you-build-it-they-will-come-ism and come not only, not to be mere present, to only stand with arms folded, but will in fact participate, a-clapping and a-stomping and a-hooting, in Â¾ waltz time, enthralled, appreciative of the man, his players, numbering a perfect eight in its stage incarnation, this band that has never much benefited from commercial radio or MTV, this band they have taken into their heads and hearts, perhaps more so the latter, with their triumphant trumpet solos, direct injections into the listeners’ souls, so necessary, so on time in these times, that here in Avalon Hollywood, the Palace of yore, ridiculously symbolically in the shadows of that most famous tower of the decaying record industry, who before their imminent last gasp, stole away those other Old Worlders Decemberists, no doubt from many of these same hungry kids in this room, and helped (urged?) those Portanders move ever closer to the mainstream, to linear, even, electric (gasp!) guitar pop, because right here in this room, there is hope, real actual capital-H Hope, beyond mere cynical affected eclecticisms for their own sake–though there is that element, to be sure–you look lovely, but the gypsy garb is a bit much,ladies–though we defend Her here and abroad, we are not that rosy-lensed about our city, hope that something new yet old, different yet comforting will be discovered, and, even if you lop off a good 10% for these pretenders, you are left with a good sized full room of the best our city and her environs have to offer, so applaud not only preternaturally-aged old world baritone crooner leader Zach Condon and his assembled Beirut army for this magical performance here in the appropriately-named Avalon, but applaud yourselves, for turning out, for participating, for recognizing something special. Well done, all around, peformers and audience alike!
Photo by Carlie