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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Music

Beirut takes crowd through Halloween waltz


Halloween is typically a night reserved for Monster Mashing and even a Werewolf Bar Mitzvah or two.

Beirut is closer to sounding like the guys from DeVotchKa than any ghouls from Transylvania.

Indie bands that sound like they were born at a Gypsy camp site from the Godfather theme and the Magnetic Fields aren’t exactly the spooky sounding things synonymous with the holiday.

However, enjoying the band waltz through a 20-song set at Warehouse Live was a much better treat than any that could have been had from ringing a doorbell.

Despite touring in support of their new album, “The Rip Tide,” Beirut gave equal time to material from each of its four major releases, opening with the accordion-driven “Scenic World” from its 2006 debut “Gulag Orkestar.”

Zach Condon’s voice floated over the pulls and tugs of Gypsy arrangements of accordion, ukulele, cello, bass, piano and a dynamite horn section.

There was lots of dancing, shaking and shimmying happening in the audience.

Rather than dividing up the set-list by featuring more material from one album more than another, the band seemed to pick songs that gave each instrument a chance to show its strengths.

“The Shrew” was a battle of the brass section, as each horn postured and trumpeted its case to be the best.

“Postcards from Italy” was the ultimate culmination of these. Led in by a rather dancy ukulele melody, and peaking with a horn explosion about two-thirds of the way through the song.

After playing an encore heavy on songs from Gulag, Condon asked, “Can we do one more for you?”

They closed with the meandering brass of “Cozak” highlighted by an incredible tuba solo.

Beirut weren’t even supposed to spend Halloween in Houston.

The band was originally scheduled to stop in the Lone Star State only for a show at Stubb’s in Austin before continuing onto Mexico City.

After playing a standout show at Free Press Summerfest this year, Houston was happy to have Beirut back for Halloween.

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