Sam Beam aka Iron & Wine kicked off his fall tour in Los Angeles at the gorgeous Orpheum Theatre on Halloween. In character for the occasion as Jim Henson, the rest of his band were fully dressed as The Muppets as well. They played for nearly two hours with a set list of 23 amazing songs beginning appropriately with “The Muppets Theme Song”. Iron & Wine shined effortlessly and sounded impeccable with full band arrangements that had the whole room paying full attention. I looked around to make sure and no was holding up any cellphone cameras which was refreshing and honestly very uplifting. It was really nice to enjoy a concert the old fashioned way again.
Currently touring in support of new record Ghost On Ghost where he took his music to a more jazzy territory, it felt like watching a different band altogether at first. He sounded right at home, just as much as he did when he first came out with The Creek Drank The Cradle. Clearly, we haven’t seen every side of Beam as a musician. He then did a very quiet, slowed down version of his cover of “Such Great Heights”, then band members gradually left the stage leaving him alone with just his guitar. We knew we were about to hear some deeper cuts. “So, what do you guys want to hear?” he asked and essentially started a yelling match between audience members who wanted to hear one track more over the other. That was when Beam held up his hands and proclaimed someone a winner already. He sang “The Trapeze Swinger” from Around The Well beautifully, modifying some of the words for the occasion (“And please, remember me this Halloween”), then “Upward Over The Mountain” and “Her Tea Leaves”, a track which was released only as a bonus 7″ vinyl with The Creek Drank The Cradle.
From listening to Beam’s melancholic songs, you wouldn’t think he had the comedic timing he displayed that night. From introducing songs unconventionally (“Here’s a song sexy enough for Jim Henson.”), to dealing with hecklers gracefully (“Are you drunk?”), he was so funny that it was hard to concentrate enough to listen to his beautiful new arrangement for “Jezebel”. Then you hear his voice and suddenly you’re in a different world again. His encore was a stripped down version of “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” which even inspired a young couple to slow dance near the stage. I would normally think of such stunts as annoying, but I was in too good a mood to muster the strength to get annoyed. Instead I was touched. Weird.
While I initially felt lame for not dressing up on Halloween and choosing to go to a folk concert instead, my decision was quickly validated by the fact that Beam’s just so freaking great. So great. Beam and the rest of his band proved to be great company and gave everyone such an unforgettable experience that I wouldn’t mind going back to again.