Monday, January 31, 2011

Iron and Wine at the Wiltern Theater

As a fan of the Postal Service, I picked up their CD single Such Great Heights which contained an acoustic cover of the title track by a band called Iron and Wine. After a few spins, I was enveloped by Sam Beam's soft fingerpicking acoustic guitars and velvety vocals.

My first live encounter with Iron & Wine was at the Knitting Factory in support of his album Our Endless Numbered Days. It was a show that had the whole crowd completely enraptured and you could have heard a pin drop.


Iron and Wine's latest album Kiss Each Other Clean finds Beam expanding his sonic palette with an assortment of multilayered songs. A lone spotlight shone upon Beam as he plucked away on his Taylor acoustic guitar with a capo attached at the 4th fret to play "He Lays in Reigns".

Assisted by Rosie Thomas and Marketa Irglova on background vocals, "Naked As We Came" soared above the clouds with its lush vocal harmonies. The rollicking guitar riff of "Big Burned Hand" was hypnotic as a shroud of silence covered the patrons of the Wiltern.


Sliding his capo down to the 5th fret, "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" showcased the broad vocal range of Beam that concluded with a raucous ovation. Dipping back into Our Endless Numbered Days, "Teeth In The Grass" was rearranged from the album version due the utilization of various brass instruments.


Picking up the pace, "Love and Some Verses" was electric as Beam picked up a Gibson SG to strum the chords while his backing band filled the Wiltern with sound. "Sodom South Georgia" also benefitted from the backing band that continued to liven up the audience. It was impressive seeing Beam command a crowd by himself as well as with a full band.

"Boy With A Coin" and "Cinder and Smoke" wound down the main set that seemed to flash by in seconds. Beam would reappear by himself for an enthralling rendition of "The Trapeze Swinger" that had the audience just as quiet as I had remembered at the Knitting Factory. It wasn't surprising that this was the second sold out night.

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