With Beirut's blasts of regal brass, that inspire foot-stomping and cape-twirling mariachi antics, you half expect Zorro to come dashing across the stage in all his sword fighting glory.

But no, there are few dramatics from frontman Zach Condon and his merry band of minstrels. About as wild gypsy wedding the Beirut lads get (apart from the drummer who is a smiley, rock-steady groover) is during the folky knees-up jam of the encore.

But while they could let loose a little more, they do what they do best and that's play their instruments. They are a clever and deft bunch of players on everything from the accordion and ukulele to french horn, trumpet, and tuba.

Condon, who has been playing his unique brand of elaborate, Eastern European-influenced folk music for six years now, and released three albums and a number of EPs, still has a bashful look of delight that he gets to play his tunes around the world for a job.


This show sold out so quickly when it went on sale last year that Beirut could have played two - or even three - nights at the Powerstation.

Earlier Dunedin's Tono and the Finance Company, whose front man comes on like a cross between Morrissey and a shy Jarvis Cocker-meets-Nick Cave, opened the show with a deliciously droll set of songs about love, economics, and supermarkets.

But it's gypsy folk pop that the masses are here to see.

The power of Beirut is how they plumb the darkest depths of melancholy, like on the beautiful East Harlem with Condon's reedy vocal charms at their best, but then take the roof off when the thrumming folk groove of the rhythm section, the brass, and the lovely wheeze of the accordion come together as one.

Then there's the band's catchy pop side, which has much to do with their rise in popularity. Nantes, off second album The Flying Club Cup, gets a big brassy Balkan pop overhaul, and sunny anthem Santa Fe (about Condon's hometown) off latest album The Rip Tide, is the sing-along highlight of the night.

Well, that, and the stomping tuba solo during the swaggering folk hoot of The Gulag Orkestar before a rousing and fiery instrumental to end.

What: Beirut
Where: The Powerstation, Auckland
When: Monday, January 16