Wednesday night at the Fillmore Auditorium, Beirut proved that a band mostly devoid of traditional rock instruments can still fill East Colfax’s largest venue. The largely brass band, led by New Mexico native Zach Condon, took the stage for a 20-plus song set and a double encore, and the crowd could not have been more receptive.
Beirut’s lengthy set was preceded by Stereolab front-woman Laetitia Sadier, who exuded a confident quiescence despite a general feeling of disinterest among the anxious crowd. With half of her set in her native French, she set an international tone for the evening.
After Sadier’s short but largely charming set, Condon and Beirut took the stage. The ecstatic crowd went wild for opener “Scenic World,” and the three-piece horn section shined as they played in time with the blinking strings of lights that had been hung from the stage onto the Fillmore’s trademark purple chandeliers. A few more well-received tunes followed, and then the band deftly moved to “Postcards from Italy” during which Condon’s triumphant trumpet outro drew more fanatical cheers.
As the set continued, however, Condon seemed to be missing an emotional connection to his enthusiastic crowd. Though he and his band were incredibly technically adept, the feeling seemed to be missing. There was hardly any banter between songs, and the lack of connection was slightly off-putting considering Condon’s interesting background.
However, in the end, skillful and well-received performances of “Santa Fe,” “Nantes,” “Goshen” and “My Night With the Prostitute From Marseille” outweighed any sort of perceived lack of connection between Beirut and the adoring masses. They executed their songs nearly flawlessly, and showed that a mariachi-style brass band can hold their own amongst a sea of guitar-based rock bands.
Paul Custer is a Denver-based writer and regular contributor to Reverb.
Tina Hagerling is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. Check out more of her concert photography.