After catching the Cold War Kids’ free show at Amoeba Music Tuesday night, I headed across town to the Wiltern to see another act that had just released a new album that very day. Iron and Wine, the pseudonym for singer-songwriter Sam Beam, was performing the first of his two shows at the venue the same day his fourth full-length Kiss Each Other Clean was released to a very eager fanbase. The groans that usually follow an artist saying “Now we’re going to play a new one” were replaced by roars of applause during the show, as this sold-out crowd was eager to hear what Beam has been working on since releasing The Shepherd’s Dog in 2007.
After opener Laura Marling warmed up the crowd with her poetic lyrics and acoustic guitar, Beam kicked off his set with “Resurrection Fern,” and even with only a few backing members joining him on stage, the sound completely filled the expansive Wiltern Theatre. The voice emanating from under that grizzly beard sounded so clear and pure that I noted that the Wiltern should really record these performances, as I would gladly pay to have that same concert on my iPod. The minimalist lighting perfectly suited this arrangement, and I actually teared up when Beam performed “Naked As We Came” because
the moment was so beautiful dust got in my eye.
After a half-dozen songs with this stripped-down backing band, Beam was joined on stage by the rest of the Iron and Wine touring musicians, which included a full horn section. The lighting got much more creative, and the entire ensemble kicked into “Tree By The River” off the new album. The addition of these musicians resulted in the same full sound, but this time with Beam’s vocals settled further down in the mix. I found myself closer to busting a move than bursting into tears at this point in the show, and before the set ended, I even found myself laughing. Really, who actually plays “Freebird” when someone in the audience shouts “Play ‘Freebird’”? Sam Beam, that’s who.
Needless to say, the night was a rollercoaster of emotions, but so is Iron and Wine’s catalogue. Some of the songs bring you up, some bring you down, but no matter what, Sam Beam’s music reflects the rawest of human emotions. I would not be surprised if I wasn’t the only one suffering from a dust problem in that crowded theater Tuesday night.
Iron and Wine