Zipped round to Diana's, where she was feeding her three doggies, and helped her find her shoes; pootled down to Chalk farm, almost got gazumped by a weeny car for a parking space, and then marched into the Roundhouse, which is an absolutely beautiful building. Somewhere in my distant memory, I recall seeing a Very Serious Play featuring a cast of naked people that included a man with grey hair and a beard. I was about twenty, and thought I had never seen anything so disgusting in my life; the horrors of seeing a starkers old man with baggy skin and grey pubes far outstripped anything the play had to say.
I've never been good at going to the theatre anyway.
Well, this was a real treat. I'd heard Beirut's stuff and was itching to see how it worked live.
At first, the sound guy was having terrible problems. The trumpet blasts blew our wigs off (for verily, we are elderly ourselves now), but even so, this was a group of people who were really interesting to watch, who swopped riffsmanship (and womanship because there's a woman fiddle player who really know how to groove), who changed from following accordion to following the thudding bass drum to following joyful unison trumpet parts.
Diana said they reminded her of early Nick Cave, but they reminded me of all sorts of things- Herb Alpert (I'd forgotten about him! McDad had an LP of his stuff that he played constantly- maybe that's why I formed Helen and the Horns), Glenn Branca, believe it or not (I think it was the line of three ukes being played out at the audience), Andy Warhol (all those multiples- sometimes three trumpets at once, the three ukes), Sesame Street (the happy feeling, even in sad songs), a toy box, a conversation (the instruments were speaking to each other quite clearly); always something to watch and something to listen to.
They were dressed nerdily ('A Bloke') but were full of open charm; Zach held the trumpet behind his ear or balanced it on his shoulder in between toots; before one song began, one of the uke players shuffled on his feet and tensed up like an amateur athlete at the beginning of a race, waiting for the starting pistol- or even waiting for the head teacher to say 'Ready, steady, GO!!!'
Musically,I desperately wanted to be in the gang! Sometimes, the sound cleared and left Zach to sing, to lead the band, who burst in to punctuate his vocals: at other times the trumpet arrangements were so delicious I was wildly jealous and wanted to be back doing arrangements for Helen and the Horns. They were mesmerising; they could so easily have failed but they know exactly what they are doing; you could feel that this band trust each other as musicians, and the work was shared out so there was constantly something new to watch and to listen to. Zach is not an egotistical front man; it's all obviously his dream and his baby, but he knows that if you're using a collective of people, they have to be able to shine, and this is exactly what they did.
One rather funny thing. Halfway through, a woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to stop tilting my head (I was trying to peer round a pillar to see what the other trumpet player was doing).
I laughed all the way through the next song, and missed it.
Which was another thing I really, really liked, and it's something valuable lots of bands and artists forget- short songs!