review by Katy McCourt-Basham
photos by Jessica Carina
I arrived to the very packed Vera Project just before the Iron & Wine set began. Sam Beam came onstage to roaring applause and then, all at once, complete silence the moment he picked up his guitar. I, sadly, missed the opening band (Bellingham locals Yogaman Burning Band), but everyone (including Beam) had nice things to say about them. The first thing he said to the audience was “If you don’t like that, you have to ask yourself, ‘Do I know how to have a good time?’”
Beam explained that they were doing something a little unusual with this tour. Fans were asked to submit requests via the internet for songs to be played at that show. Beam began the set with a short song, “Stolen Houses (Die)”, which he recorded for the Dark Was The Night compilation. Beam played alone, giving the show a more intimate feel. Though he had no one else accompanying him, the show was not lacking in any respect. His presence and sense of humor were great, and though he made his fair share of mistakes on his older songs, he was not at all flustered. His mistakes made him all the more endearing.
Because he was playing requests, there was a very interesting mix of older and more recent songs. He played big favorites like “Sodom South Georgia” and “Woman King,” and older tracks like “Muddy Hymnal” and “The Trapeze Swinger” (my personal favorite of the set). He also covered New Order’s “Love Vigilantes.” Everything was absolutely beautiful. There was a sort of electric silence among the audience members of this show. Everyone was dead silent while Beam played, and there was pretty equally distributed shock every time he cursed (speaking or in one of his songs).
Because he was playing requests, I was surprised at the absence of some of Beam’s more popular songs like “Naked As We Came,” “Jezebel” and his famous cover of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights.” Obviously, this didn’t put a damper on his performance (Sam Beam could sing me “The Hokey Pokey” for an hour and I’d be happy). If you ever get a chance to see Iron & Wine live, please do. You will not be disappointed.
Around The Well, a 2-disc compilation of Iron & Wine b-sides and odds ‘n ends comes out on Sub Pop this Tuesday, May 19th .