No more marching down the boulevard and singing along with the iPod - my love for the band Beirut has finally found an appropriate outlet.
The Blogothèque asked me to write a text in English to accompany the release of their latest video. Taken from the magical Soirée à Emporter, it features two amazing songs and one Go-Go dancing blogger.
Below is the video and my text from the Blogothèque. Many other delights, including the other eight videos from this concert, are available on their site.
When Zach Condon introduces his last song, denial rings throughout the Flèche d’Or. "But after," he continues, "I will play with Kocani Orkestar. It’s a dream for me."
This news about a Balkan band elicits very little reaction from the crowd. Most of those crammed into the venue, not to mention the hundreds who are waiting on the sidewalk, have arrived to see Beirut. The announcement of their last song seems to signal the end of a very special soirée.
The opening tump-thumps of "Sunday Smile" see the crowd start to turn around, swaying and beaming with pleasure of discovery. Zach’s attention is initially focused on the job of filling his microphone. When he raises his head for the chorus, looks around and sees what’s happening, a manic grin threatens to wipe out his ability for words.
He is 22 years old, this kid. He has spent the summer in Paris, mere steps away from the stage that now holds him with his musical heroes. Their brass envelops him and sends this unreleased song into the sky. His new neighbors are all around, waving their arms and asking for more.
How did he get here ?
It was only a few weeks ago that Chryde broke the news in a Paris café. Upon learning that the Blogothèque was bringing Kocani to come and play with him, Zach was stunned into silence. He lit a cigarette. He said "thank you." He then retreated into the fear that comes with getting what you want.
That initial astonishment infuses this song with Kocani Orkestar. "Sunday Smile" is taut with anxiety and joy. It is bursting with Zach’s gratitude for the beauty of this moment. By the end of the song he is nearly bowing down before his guests from Macedonia.
When the call for "Siki Siki Baba" is sounded, Zach raises himself up and promptly jumps into the fray. "Watching me listen to this song," he wrote last year for Said the Gramophone, "is like watching a hyperactive four-year-old without his Ritalin. Pure excitement." Watching him not only listen but play along to this song is doubly exciting.
The crowd that only an hour ago was held spellbound by delicate sounds is now erupting, their energy in each chorus threatening to break out the windows of this former train station. Zach gushes along with the rest of them, waving his arms like some deranged conductor. His eyes are often closed or fixed upon the distant ceiling as if the sight of this swell is just a little too much. When he opens them and looks around, he can barely contain his laughter.
We are so thoroughly whipped into musical fervor that the end of the song is not an option. The crowd continues to bleat out its ecstasy in chorus after unscripted chorus. Our consolation, when the last note falls, is that this song is only the beginning of our night with Kocani Orkestar.
Let’s hope this is also only the beginning of these Soirées à Emporter.