A crowd of nearly 2,000 gathered in what could not have been a better concert hall to listen to the soothing, curious sounds of this South Carolina native.
I am a huge fan of the artist, but had never managed to see him live. Once I learned he was coming to town after doing shows all over Europe for three weeks (without a day’s break), I felt as though it was my duty to finally hear this guy in the flesh.
For those of you who are a little in the dark about the act, here’s some background info. Iron and Wine is the stage name of singer and songwriter Sam Beam, who came up with his designation after being inspired by a dietary supplement named “Beef Iron and Wine”. Having released his first album in 2002, The Creek Drank the Cradle, it didn’t take long for Beam to develop an enormous following. He has now released seven albums, in all, including recordings of two live performances.
Listeners tend to describe his style as a hypnotizing mix of folk, rock, acoustic and indie, a combination that has this inexplicable ability to make you ponder, make you melt, make you shiver and make you blissful.
It was a pleasant surprise to discover how different a feel his live music has compared to his studio work. On Iron and Wine’s recordings, we get an antiquey, haunting sensation that lends to his mysterious vibe. With an indication of whisper and a hint of genuine rasp to his voice, Beam immediately grabs your heart and holds on tight. It almost seemed impossible that his songs could be revealed in any other way, just because the versions I was familiar with are so perfect.
But then he began to sing. There was this smooth, more meaty projection that seemed like such a far cry from his trademark subtleness. His band matched the feel perfectly with robust, yet not overwhelming additions of the sax, percussion, flute, guitar and more. There was a healthy mix of new and old, but even the old felt revamped. Cinder and Smoke, Woman King and Boy With A Coin, for example, are a few earlier songs he made young again. And it needs to be said Iron and Wine has a sly sense of humour; at one point he began playing Lynyrd Skynrd’s infamous Freebird. Although it was just a teaser, his efforts did not go unappreciated.
All in all, the concert was beyond successful. Great performance, nice venue, awesome evening.