22 November 2010

iron + wine

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It’s been a throwback kind of week here in New Orleans: two bands of my lonely indie boyhood dreams playing consecutive days in one weekend! On Saturday night Sam Beam and company played a sold out show at the House of Blues. One can only hope that after building anticipation for over 6 years to see a band, it will actually be enough to justify all the time spent waiting. This was certainly the case, as Iron + Wine did not disappoint.
The evening began with a short sample of Iron + Wine at it’s very core, as the simple solo vehicle for the creative folk genius of Sam Beam. Beam, dressed in a black suit and sporting his usual bushy beard, opened with a predominantly a cappella rendition of The Shepherd’s Dog’s closing track, “Flightless Bird, American Mouth;” his gentle vocals filled the fairly large concert hall as the audience listened in a reverent silence that spoke for the holiness of his music.

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After performing “Up Over the Mountain” from his first full length, The Creek Drank the Cradle, Beam invited the supporting members of his band, which was 7 strong at it’s largest, onto stage. As the set progressed, the band did a wonderful job of playing a diverse list of songs from each album and the next high point came with the performance of “Woman King” from the 2005 EP that shares the same title. During this piece, as well as others, Beam’s supporting guitarist implemented the use of an electric banjo that attributed to much of the song’s overall splendor.

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In closing, the band performed a shadowy, drawn-out version of Wolves, that built incessantly into a roaring guitar solo before being cut off without notice, to slowly but tenderly dissipate. It wasn’t long however until they were back for an encore to play an obvious crowd favorite, “Boy with a Coin,” from the latest full-length album.
When all is said and done, this was an extremely impressive show. In the anticipation of seeing a folk band like this, that is known at times for it’s manifestation of beauty within simplicity, one never knows exactly what to expect. During this performance however, less was not necessarily more, and it was my sentiment that Beam and his band did a wonderful job of not only playing a diverse set list, but also of adapting his deeply emotional folk songs to an intelligent live performance.

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-Article by Justen Cheney
-Photos by Josh Brasted
For more pictures from the show,
check out Joshua's Flickr.

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