Local fans had waited a very long time for this, and on Tuesday night – nearly a year to the date after the band’s latest album was unleashed on the world – Zach Condon finally brought Beirut back to Boston.
Far from a pure ode to The Rip Tide, the band churned out a career-spanning, 19-song set with highlights culled from each of its major releases. “Scenic World,” “Vagabond” and “Elephant Gun” anchored the beginning of the show, and a pair of March of the Zapotec/Holland tracks (including “My Night with the Prostitute From Marseille”) brought the main set to a stirring close. In between, the band hit all the expected right notes with selections like “Nantes,” “Sunday Smile,” “The Shrew” and “Postcards From Italy” and even performed the title track from The Rip Tide live for the first time. The encore was steeped in early-career gems, including “Carousels.”
Though Condon is certainly the main draw – the humble, understated front man held the long-sold-out crowd in the palm of his hand from the moment he took the stage, alternating between trumpet and ukelele throughout the night – Beirut’s fans have clearly bought into this being a full-band affair. The largest ovations of the night were not for recent radio staples like “Santa Fe,” but rather for the brass-heavy selections where the expanded touring outfit would stand unified across the front of the stage, 5 horns strong.
Montreal trio Little Scream was a pleasant surprise in the opening slot, providing some vocally stunning moments spun between hushed numbers and onslaughts of noise during a confident 40-minute set that blew its previous Boston performance out of the water.
Beirut’s Setlist (courtesy of the fine contributors at setlist.fm):
Scenic World / Vagabond / Elephant Gun / East Harlem / Postcards From Italy / Cherbourg / Santa Fe / The Shrew / Port of Call / A Sunday Smile / Nantes / Serbian Cocek / The Rip Tide / The Akara / My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille // The Penalty (Condon Solo) / After the Curtain / Carousels / Gulag Orkestar