So once again I was Not At The Theatre last night, trading overpriced interval wine for tepid beer in plastic cups (well actually I stuck to gin, but you get my point).
I was watching Zach Condon, and his perhaps unwisely monikered band Beirut, play Koko in Camden. If you’ve yet to encounter him, Condon plays a kind of jazzed up take on the music of Eastern Europe. Actually, no, it’s more wide-ranging than that. There are touches of Klezmer and Celtic in there. But basically we’re talking accordions and mandolins and ukuleles. Vocals distorted through a loudhailer. And much trumpet.
What was fairly downbeat and mournful on his album, Gulag Orkestar, came wonderfully alive on stage; there’s something surprisingly joyous about this kind of music and Condon, despite being a twenty-something be-fringed fellow from Sante Fe, manages to evoke the heart and power of real-deal Balkan gypsy gods like Boban Markovic without coming off like a bandwagon-jumper.
So, yes, I enjoyed that a lot, though I find there’s something a bit offal-y about Koko, something about all that red that’s like, as I think I said once before, being trapped in the belly of a big gay whale. Also I had managed to position myself on the beer corridor, the path through the crowd that everyone automatically follows from the bar to the stage, so there was a fair bit of side-stepping and shuffling and ‘sorry, excuse me’ dancing with chaps juggling five tumblers of lager. But still, good fun.