Review by Justin Lyons; photos by Catrina Maxwell (www.catmaxphotography.com)
Full gallery after the jump.
Iron & Wine – Buckhead Theatre – Atlanta, GA – 11/11/11
By Justin Lyons
If you haven’t listened to Iron & Wine recently, you might assume two things about Sam Beam & co.’s live performance: a) a simple singer-songwriter style approach with just an acoustic guitar, b) a trademark bushy beard.
Iron & Wine’s first album The Creek Drank The Cradle certainly ushered in a tidal wave of acoustic narrating troubadours, but over the last nine years, the band transformed into multi-talented act. The flowing beard, while tamer than previous years, is still there, but as Iron & Wine releases have grown and diversified, so have Beam’s live experiences. From Twilight-featured fame to collaboration with Arizona alt country act Calexico to funky, ’70s pop 2011 album, Kiss Each Other Clean, Iron & Wine’s gradual progression has been a welcome one.
Sam Beam was greeted with resounding cheers as he and his ten-piece ensemble took the stage at the intimate setting in Buckhead Theatre. Beam, who could have been mistaken for an older, more health conscious Zach Galifinakis, seemed at home after performing an invitation only Artists Den taping the night prior and growing up only a few hours away in South Carolina.
Much of Iron & Wine’s performance was tailored to recent release, Kiss Each Other Clean and made use of an arsenal of talented musicians on stage. Set openers included an enchanting full band rendition of “Run Rabbit Run” and a guitar heavy version local favorite “Summer In Savannah.” Slow burner “Half Moon” benefited from ukulele and back-up singers, including sister Sarah Beam. The horn section interchanged flutes, trumpets and saxophones was a huge plus on most tracks. Horns were especially appreciated on new spins of classics like fan favorite “Boy With A Coin” with the tempo sped up, jazzy bass guitar and percussion.
Beam exuded a confident, cool personality throughout the night and playfully interacted with the crowd. He chuckled when someone shouted “BEARDS” and sarcastically replied that it was great inventing the beard, but lamented that he should have copyrighted the look. Beam also must be accustomed to people shouting song requests during quieter moments. He even elaborated on how odd it is for someone to shout your song names at you in loud, angry tones. Clearly flattered, but confused at the same time.
Beam’s peaceful demeanor was on particular display during the solo encore. Playing to the crowd’s home state, Beam soothingly sang “Sodom, South GA” solo with a guitar and a shining spotlight. The venue was quiet enough to hear an iPhone photo snap before some obnoxious individual yelled “Veteran’s Day,” for no apparent reason. Beam brushed off comment with a smile and calmly finished a performance that capped off a night of an evolved Iron & Wine that entranced nearly all witnesses.