Iron and Wine – In The Venue November 6, 2013


In the summer of 2012 I had the opportunity to see Iron and Wine as part of Salt Lake City’s summer Twilight Concert Series. While I enjoyed the show for the most part, I couldn’t help but feel that I wasn’t seeing this band in its proper element. Seeing them at In The Venue on November 6 was much closer to the setting I had in mind.
Now I must say that I’m not a die hard Iron and Wine fan. I do like the music, but for example, I haven’t been able to track down a set list for this show, and I can’t name one song he did other than his infamous cover of the Postal Service’s hit “Such Great Heights”. Now I’m sure this makes me pathetic to actual fans of the band, but with all this being said, I feel like my review has some insight to offer that the typical fan might not experience.
While In The Venue, is a much better location than Pioneer Park, I still felt like a theater setting might be best for this show and style of music. Perhaps seeing him at Kingsbury Hall would be the perfect place. It’s not a matter of sitting down or not. Trust me I have stood for some pretty lengthy shows and didn’t mind it in the least. I just feel like a theater would set the proper tone for this band.
Now let’s get something else out of the way. Can somebody help me please? Should I refer to Iron and Wine as they, them, or him? Because it seems to me that Iron and Wine for all intents and purposes is 100% vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter, Samuel Beam. So I’m going to call Iron and Wine, “he” until someone corrects me.
With that being said, Sam was joined on stage with a full band matched up in Threes. Three female backup singers, a three person horn section, and a three person string section. It was if the band had been cast in a movie about an indie folk band. All of them had their own personalities that stood out, and all of them seemed as if they had their own tale to tell. These nine musicians along with a drummer, bassist, and Sam filled the night with so many styles of music, and so many sounds, that my ears and mind don’t have a way to truly process what I heard at times. But it was beautiful and kept the two hour show full of surprises and anticipation.
As someone who again, wouldn’t consider himself a diehard fan, it was fun to watch the audience throughout the show. Usually in a show, I’m looking forward to what’s next; what great hit song am I going to hear after this one. But I didn’t have any anticipation. I just loved seeing individual faces light up at different times when they heard the song they came to hear. And I was able to enjoy the song for the song. Many of which I had heard for the first time. I was able to be in the moment for once, rather than wondering what was next. Because chances are, I wouldn’t know the song anyway.
A show like this really gives Sam the opportunity to engage with the audience, and show his personality a little more. Being a smaller venue, it seemed as if the crowd felt like they could talk with Sam and the rest of the band like they knew them. In between songs many people would shout out the song they wanted to hear. I’m not sure if this is common at an Iron and Wine show or not, Sam seemed un-phased by it. I thought at this point Sam showed his brilliance as much if not more than when he played his amazing music. Being a Southern man, Sam was always polite, and I loved how as people shouted out their requests he would say “Thank you, Thanks, Thank you”, which was basically saying, “Thanks for liking my songs, but we’re not doing that one.” True genius in my book. Be grateful, but continue with what you came here to play.
I’d say my favorite part of the night was when someone from the crowd shouted the obligatory “Freebird” when requesting a song. It’s is a long running joke for concert goers to request Lynard Skynnard’s classic hit. I don’t know where this started, but it’s been going for ages. It seemed pretty strange that this request/joke would happen at an Iron and Wine show, but nevertheless we were not immune to the attempt at humor. But where the real joke rested was with Sam. He seemed to smirk and ignore the request and begin one of his songs. But what we were all surprised to hear was Iron and Wine actually singing, “If I leave here tomorrow…” the opening lyrics to “Freebird”. The audience roared with laughter and applause, totally satisfied with this being the punch line to the joke. I truly hope I can paint this picture correctly because Sam was the one with the last laugh. So with the crowd amused with the moment, they seemed satisfied to move on to some more Iron and Wine songs. But Sam kept going. He sang this southern rock gem in his style, full of depth sincerity and purpose. The audience’s demeanor changed. They were now fully engaged in the piece. Now right at the point where the audience was moved beyond any other point in the show, Sam pulls up and says, “Just kidding.” There was a collective reaction from the audience that basically said, “We’ve been had”. As an outside observer, I thought it was hilarious, but more than anything, I realized that Sam had that much power over this audience. He could take them anywhere and they were willing to follow. And he did. He took us to places musically most of us were not prepared for. He took us to familiar favorites like the previously mentioned “Such Great Heights”. And he led us through a night I won’t soon forget.
My overall experience was excellent. From the band, to the specific small moments I noticed throughout the crowed, to the reason we were all there. The music. I would highly recommend seeing Iron and Wine live. In my opinion, the live version of any of these songs by far trumps any studio recording of his. I was honored to be a guest at this incredible event.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *