Beirut

-ALBERT HALL, MANCHESTER-

“The ones that sound like you’re on holiday? I’d have gone to see them!”

My mum is 63-years-old. She loves The Beatles and Motown and Take That. She also, it turns out, has been as charmed by Beirut’s swaying melodies as I have and packaged that appreciation up in a turn of phrase that I would have happily stolen for my own.

It’s been sunnier than early April probably should be on the day of the gig. By Manchester standards, it’s sunglasses and sundresses weather (or at the very least, that’s what a number of us opt for – something about dressing for the life you wish you had). The crowd is already warm, ready to be jetted to Sante Fe and Italy and Corfu.

So we begin. Zach Condon is not the chattiest of frontmen but I don’t think anybody minds very much because it means we hear more music – and anyway, seeing the band live serves as a reminder that this is not a one-man show. The stage is full of people, full of instruments of every ilk. We’re here for the fulsome sound that brings with it and the more of that we get, the better.

And what a sound it is. A mixture of new tracks from Gallipoli and old crowd pleasers like ‘Elephant Gun’ and ‘The Rip Tide’ make up the set. Beirut sound like nostalgia but I can’t help but feel like they also sound like hope. A promise of a cool drink in your hand, a light breeze in the height of a still summer, a secretive glance between friends. Do you want to know what joy looks like? It’s hundreds of Beirut fans hearing ‘Nantes’ live, hands in the air, bodies swaying.

Condon’s voice, too, is better live than it is recorded. I’ve seen him once before but it was outdoors and so I think it got a little lost – but it’s different at the Albert Hall. My only gripe with Condon (and it’s not even a real gripe) is that sometimes I feel like it’s difficult to make out his lyrics. It takes a while to adjust to the sound of his voice. But not in the Albert Hall. He is clearer than on record, his voice carrying with ease through the chapel.

The night ends with a three song encore and it’s clear we’d have all stuck around to listen to another hour if they’d let us. Outside is colder now and we’re a far cry away from warm summer nights on European piazzas – but for 90 minutes in the middle of Manchester on a Wednesday night, it felt like we were on holiday.

I’ll take you to the next one, Mum.

Beirut: Official | Facebook | Twitter

Sara Royle

Former newspaper journalist who has started dabbling in radio. Just returned to Manchester after a stint away in the wilds of Cumbria and hoping to use this reviewing lark as a way to find some of the best music that this lovely city has to offer and meet some creative folks along the way. Find me on Twitter @callmesara