The magical atmosphere created by their music really is something else. There were bearded men whispering about lost loves, roaring ogres, sailors in socks tapping their feet and playing the violin, wonderfully dressed musicians and girls on the accordion. Never had we seen a performance quite like this.
Beirut themselves are quite a small collective – two trumpets and a trombone, almost nothing in an average concert hall, but enormous in an apartment. And when they landed barefoot in the carpeted living room, we knew that noise would be made, and we were thankful for the absent neighbours. The night before, after their concert, Zach Condon had warned us that he would have to break the sacred rule of the Soirée de Poche, and use a microphone to avoid his voice being masked by the instruments.
This evening would be different. Not because of the microphone, not because of the number of requests to attend that we received, not because of our hosts (Pierre and Seba, aged 71 and 85). But we just weren’t sure what to expect.
As usual, the band were polite and delightfully shy. As usual, the audience were too. Then, as if high on the music, things got a little carried away. An accordion strap broke, Perrin asked people to stand up, drinks were drunk faster than ever, and everything went rather crazy. The band had taken absolute control over the room, mixing with the audience, playing passionately beside wide-eyed guests.
This evening was fantastically in the spirit of the very first Soirée de Poche, during which we were very confused to the point of being eluded completely, but in the best way possible. We haven’t given you everything. No Penalty, with Zach alone on the ukulele in a sea of people. No turbulent Postcards from Italy. But we had to choose. And it certainly wasn’t easy.