Header image by Kristianna Smith

Brixton is a questionable venue to place a band like Beirut - what feels like only a little time into Zachery Condon’s career, and he’s walking out to a sea of people ferociously eager to be impressed. It’s not their fault; the companies behind them are trying to push them to places like Brixton, and it’s the band that ultimately suffer.

Beirut are a band I love, they’re uplifting music of an often untraceable mix of origins will always bring a warm smile to my face. Many even tend to class them as sentimental, touching and beautiful putting them in the same boat as acts like Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zero’s and Joanna Newsom. Granted, they aren’t direct relations in terms of music, but their fans seem a stronger breed than others; they feel connected, directly associated with the artist because what they produce is so very much “them”.

We get it with films too - Submarine for example – the product’s got cult acclaim but it still feels like its your ‘thing’. But that’s where the danger of placing Beirut in a venue like Brixton Academy comes. It’s huge, commercialised and an all round standard affair. It finds itself so far removed from those sentimental moments you spend with Beirut records at home that it borders on the danger of ruining the concept of the band completely.

No-one likes to see something they loved so endearingly rocket to other worldly proportions, it just doesn’t have the same effect it ever did.

The band did play well tonight though; highlight moments came with hearty renditions of ‘Nantes’ and ‘Gulak Orkestrar’, as well as new tracks from the only just released The Rip Tide receiving a surprisingly warm reception. The band swapped between smooth grooves and racing builds for most of the set, causing their audience to jump, swing and sway throughout.

They came, they played, they charmed, and of course many people did have fun. But to me, it just wasn’t Beirut at their best. Musicianship is never something they’ll lack, but they can’t be in control of everything in their surroundings. Scattered conversations and annoying drunks cheapened their set for me, and that’s a complete disappointment.

But the evening did leave me with one thought: Why can’t gigs just be simple? It’s the subtlest of things that make for the best experiences.