It’s a brand new kletzmer world!
The new Rough Trade superstore is cavernous and full of trendy young things casually perusing the flyers and freebie magazines near the coffee shop, many on their own like me, due to the stringent ticket conditions of this in-demand gig. Yes, this is a gig to be accompanied by coffee or fruit juice only – beers to be had later in the bar next door.
At the back under a sign saying Dance CDs, a small stage had been erected and the racks shunted out of the way. Beirut is a cute teddybear of a man accompanied by his scenester hoodie crew. Only here will you see what looks like a new raver playing double bass to a new wave kletzmer soundtrack.
Beirut is discombobulated…he’s got jet lag and the mikes are having feedback issues that mean I spend most of the gig with a hand over the ear nearest the speakers – but that doesn’t stop a rousing set. Accordians, multiple ukes, a man playing a funny drum thing on the floor next to the cds, mandolin, violin, trumpet – all musical bases are covered. This is the return of the rock orchestra – people are bored with the traditional guitar, bass, drums combo, and everywhere I turn I’m seeing a move towards the instruments of an orchestra or big band. This is music that wouldn’t be out of place in Red Square in Moscow, but suddenly it is being feted as the next big thing. Not a bad thing I say.