A Hawk & A Hacksaw @ Luminaire 12/11/06

Much loved and hyped by this blog, and a million others Beirut were due to play their first ever headlining London gig last sunday. Sadly at the last moment an announcement was made:

“the attendant stress of organizing and traveling with a full-blown, 12-person orkestar took its toll. Having put all of his energy into each and every performance, Zach was briefly hospitalized with extreme exhaustion.”

To say I was disappointed is an understatement, especially give the universally glowing reviews given to their support slot a few days previously. The Luminaire did point out that it was only Zach that would be missing, and that the rest of the band would join with support A Hawk & A Hacksaw, but losing your lead singer, main trumpet player, and band leader is pretty much losing the whole band. Get Well soon Zach.

Beirut – “Postcards From Italy (MP3)

Beirut – “Elephant Gun (MP3)

Kid Harpoon

Disappointment aside I did at least manage a personal first… sleeping in for a gig. After a week of the hell that is night shift I decided to have a few hours pre-show shut-eye only to wake up half an hour before I was supposed to be there (apologies to those left waiting!).

Thankfully I arrived in time for the hastily drafted in Kid Harpoon, who claimed he’d been chuffed to be asked down to see the band, but a little surprised when a phone call later that became “actually can you perform tonight too?” His surprise was our gain as he won over a crowd busy having a collective sulk over Beirut’s no show.

Pretty melodies combined with a voice that shifted between mellowness, and anger before surprising us all with a falsetto he may have acquired when Justin Hawkins checked in to rehab. The tender “Childish Dreaming” was the standout track, although the line “Why are there white boys shedding blood on the news?” had me checking my ticket to see I hadnt stumbled into a Skrewdriver gig in my sleepy haze. As the song finished he quickly backtracked explaining that he’d got the lyrics mixed up and that it the line should have been “Why are there children shedding blood on the news?”… that was the racist version he joked.

An excellent cover of Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan” closed his short set, leaving me eager to hear more.

Kid Harpoon – “First We Take Manhattan (MP3)

Kid Harpoon – “Childish Dreaming (MP3)

I was going to post the original Leonard Cohen “First We Take Manhattan” but after downloading I absolutely hated it (terrible production). So until I’ve time to better educate myself in the ways of Leonard here’s a another cracking cover of one of his songs:

Antony & The Johnsons – “The Guests (Live in Sevilla) (MP3)

And so to the now headlining A Hawk & A Hacksaw (AHAAH), how could they possibly recreate their complex Balkan folk sound live with only Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost on stage? The answer appeared to be by strapping all the instruments to Jeremy’s body! From head to toe he’s a one man band, starting with a hat covered in bells, an accordion, a stick strapped to his knee for cowbell bashing, and a selection of drums for his feet… oh and he sings too. Heather backed him up with strings, and vocals.

Its difficult to tell sometimes where AHAAH end and where Beirut begin, they share members as well as that gypsy influence in their sound. AHAAH tend towards more instrumentals, although the anti-war chant of “Portlandtown” was excellent. The numbers and noise levels were further swelled when most of Beirut joined the pair on stage for the remaining set, and two encores.

we’re a band of the people… so we’re going to end playing in the people

With that they spread out into the crowd, leaving just two members on stage. The grinning faces in the audience as the the band cajoled them into singing along were in contrast to the glum ones before the gig started. AHAAH almost made us forget what we’d missed out on… well almost… ultimately the disappointment of not seeing Beirut couldn’t fail to overshadow and slightly sour this otherwise fine show.

A Hawk & A Hacksaw – “Portlandtown (MP3)

Read: Three Pink Monkeys provide the in depth review I’ve been too busy to do. Essential.
Drowned in Sound gave the night 9 out of 10.

Privacy Preference Center