Kristianna Smith

Despite garnering consistent critical praise, seeing his releases gain better and better placing in the charts across the Atlantic and selling out the o2 Brixton Academy tonight, the man behind Beirut, Zach Condon, is still a nervy performer. At just past 9.30 the 6-piece trot onto the stage, each of them looking understated and swallowed up by the vastness of the venue.

The quietude of the performers stands in stark contrast to the devout fervour of the audience. Despite the fact the band seem to rush through openers ‘Scenic World’ and ‘The Shrew’ without speaking to the audience, each song is received with continued applause and enthusiastic whooping.

Faced with such energy the band can’t help but begin to lose themselves. Although the tour is supposed to promote latest album The Rip Tide, the set tonight is full of old favourites. Particularly welcome are the likes of singles such as ‘Elephant Gun’ and ‘Postcards from Italy’. Their reception however pales in comparison to ‘Nantes’, after which the applause is so extended that the band react as if it is the set closer, despite it coming halfway through the 22-song evening.

The first of the six post-encore songs,‘Goshen’, sees Condon lay bare his stage fright; “You’re on in five, it’s time you rise or fail” he croons from behind a piano. The tempo is raised afterwards with the rousing likes of ‘Carousels’ and ‘Mount Wroclai’, before the night is ended by a solo performance of ‘The Penalty’. Though the live set fails to recreate some of the enchanting intimacy on record that has won Beirut this ardent audience, for many here tonight just the sight of the band touring is enough to send them home with a warm glow.

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