Beirut started out as a bedroom recording project for Sante Fe songwriter Zach Condon, but five years after its recorded debut it’s grown into a marching band. At least it more resembles a marching band than a rock band, with a whole section of brass and nary an electric guitar in sight.
The band has taken a more upbeat, accessible turn on this year’s “The Rip Tide” album — their third full-length release — but Condon’s songs remain languorous and brief. Sometimes they’re waltzes; often they’re introduced by his own ukelele or Perrin Cloutier’s accordion. On Tuesday, at the first night of a sold-out nights at the 9:30 Club, the sullen-faced, melancholy-voiced Condon fit a full headlining set’s worth of songs into a slender 70-minute performance time. He lost little time to banter, electing instead to let his singing do the, uh, talking. It’s a morose warble that carries traces of Roy Orbison, Morrissey, and The National’s Matt Berringer.
The show began with a “Scenic World” appealingly fattened up from its skeletal 2006 recorded version into a warm, full-band arrangement. Stacked together, his martial love songs played like an extended tribute to the idea of weathering heartbreak with dignity. They could be the soundtrack to some film Wes Anderson hasn’t made (and Mark Mothersbaugh hasn’t scored) yet.
Ending the set proper after an hour, Condon returned to perform one number alone on his uke “for the setlist-takers,” then led the band in a version of “My Night with the Prostitute from Marsielle” that traded the recorded tune’s slippery groove for something sadder and more lumbering — an anti-dance remix.