Beirut may be more used to the thunder of guns than to the thunder of drums, but it was during a visit to the Lebanese capital in 2010 that The Tea Party’s guitarist/vocalist Jeff Martin was reminded of just how far his band’s music had spread. In the early 90s the trio he had founded in Toronto had been touted as Rock’s Next Big Thing, thanks to their welding together of Doors-esque atmospherics and Zeppelin-scale ambition.
The Return Of The Tea Party
Pitched as ‘The Doors meet Led Zeppelin’, The Tea Party were the textbook 90s cult band – until one of them took to a stronger brew.
But things hadn’t panned out as they’d hoped, and when Martin travelled to Beirut The Tea Party had acrimoniously split up five years earlier. Still, he’d heard that they had a big following there – perhaps not surprisingly, given how heavily they incorporated Middle Eastern motifs into their music – although, as he points out now, that could have meant 20 people.
“I played this beautiful catacomb club with chandeliers and candles everywhere, like something out of a movie set,” he recalls today. “I got ushered in through the back and walked on stage not knowing what to expect, and there’s five hundred people in front of me crying. It was incredible. If The Tea Party went there now there’d be a riot.”