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Iron & Wine @ Terminal 5: Two Shot Review

October 15, 2011

Sam Beam, also known as Iron & Wine, took to the stage at Terminal 5 in New York for a two-show appearance this week on Wednesday and Thursday. Fortunately for us, HHM had two correspondents on hand, one for each night.

Now, with two very different reflections on the current stage of Sam Beam and Co., let’s take a look at some of the notes our reporters took.

Kelson Ayers — “The Ayers Effect” (Column on Thursdays)

On Wednesday night, I had the privlage of seeing Iron & Wine for my third time here in New York. I guess you can say I make it a point to always see Sam Beam when he comes through. I can say as always, that I was not dissapointed. The concert was held at Terminal 5, which is easily one of my personal favorite venues the city has to offer. I previously had seen Iron & Wine perform at this venue three years ago on the Sheperd’s Dog tour.

Iron & Wine was at full band with a complete brass section. There must have been 8 people up on stage, certinally more then I have ever seen in previous times. The band opened up with their latest single ” Me and Lazarus” off of the third studio album Kiss Each Other Clean. To be honest with you I was not the biggest fan of the new album. It is far different than any of the other albums, in that it’s no longer just Sam and his guitar. That’s the reason why a lot of us fell in love with his music in the first place. I noticed though, that the crowd was suprisingly young, which led me later to observe that many of his latest songs were being sung by the audience. More so than myself singing along with my fovorites off of his earlier albums. Sam threw it back during the set and performed a few of my personal favorites, including “On your Wings” from the second album Our Endless Numbered Days. I had never heard him play this song, and though it was played differently due to the full band, I enjoyed what new sounds it had to offer. Playing different versions is always a little disheartining to the fans, because it’s not what we fell in love with. I found myself loving the new sound just as much.

Later in the set he would play his very popular ” House by the Sea” which as always left you dancing. Sam would later play one of my personal favorites “Love Song of the Buzzard,” which I had never heard him play and was always left a little bitter. I finally achieved my satisfaction and the song would go down as one of my favorites of the set. The best performance of the night was “Wolves: Song of the Sheppards Dog,” leading into a ten minute jam session, which left everyone in applause and dance. I know that I can always count on Iron & Wine to jam out.

Ending the night with “Rabbit Will Run” was a good choice, a little dissapointing though because it was the first time he did not end with “The Trappeze Swinger,” which if you dont know, is one of his best songs and has become almost a traditional conclusion for his performances. Although dissapointed at the encore he did apologize to the fans if they didn’t get to here their song and that they were trying new things. Makes sense because when I think about it the amount of songs I would want to hear from him…. well it would be a long concert. Makes me wonder if Sam Beam will ever do a solo tour for the long time fans. I had the pleasure of being with my beautiful girlfriend Vanessa and for the first time I was able to appreciate the romance that comes along with Beam’s songs, leaving us in dance, laughter and embrace. It was truly a night to remember.

Jeremy Baskett — “Baskettcase(Column on Tuesdays)

Eagerness was high when October 13th finally rolled around; the day I would see Iron and Wine for the second time in a year. I saw Sam Beam and company earlier this year at Radio City Music Hall and was fairly impressed. I say fairly because half of the set was performed with a full band to support his Kiss Each Other Clean release. The other half stayed true to his original style, which was absolutely beautiful.

I arrived at Terminal 5 at 6:45 hoping to get a good spot for me and my five foot girlfriend, Chelsea. We found an amazing spot right on the gate. We were both bursting with anticipation.

The show finally started, with opening act The Low Anthem. I was not familiar with their music whatsoever, but I really enjoyed their set. The band was very eclectic with their instruments, going from guitars, keyboards, trumpets, and my favorite, a handsaw. As I said before, I am not too familiar with their music, but the track that stood out the most for me had to have been “This Goddamn House.” They closed with two sounds without any use of microphones, with all four members harmonizing together over an acoustic guitar. A very appropriate and well executed performance to open the show.

That’s when shit hit the fan.

Iron and Wine came on and blasted into their first overbearing song from their latest and far-from-greatest album Kiss Each Other Clean. The rest almost seemed like a blur. Beam’s attitude seemed almost tool-ish, with this whole “holier than thou” portrayed image. The seemingly country boy had finally made it to the big city, and no longer can he smell his own shit.

Though many, many new songs were played, he also played many of his classics, such as “Jesus the Mexican Boy,” “Boy with a Coin,” and “The Devil Never Sleeps.” Though, all of these amazing songs were reworked into post-Dave Matthews big band-esque jams. Many songs ended with an over the top guitar/drum/percussion/horn solos that mashed up into ear piercing murky nonsense. The one partial saving grace in the set was his performance was “Naked as we Came,” but that was of course ruined by a newly appeared mandolin player. Not one song featured Sam Beam playing solo. Not one song stayed true to the rawness of what Iron and Wine was all about years ago, the Iron and Wine we fell in love with to get him to this point.

Don’t get me wrong, his set was some type of powerful, and many in attendance were loving every second of it. I was not. The magic of Iron and Wine has always been and will always be the rawness and seemingly unproduced nature of his music. Though this had been done many times before by others, there was something special about Sam’s music, something intimate. I’m not saying that artists shouldn’t evolve from where they started from. Not at all. Iron and Wine has evolved greatly over the years while still maintaining this rawness that was so powerful. Kiss Each Other Clean was way off from that. It became the furthest thing from raw, from powerful, from seemingly unproduced. It became so overpoweringly produced and that it immediately fell into the bland category that I never associated with Iron and Wine.

I left at the start of the encore, which was “Tree by the River.” As many others, I was hoping for a solo performance of “Trapeze Swinger” or just ANYTHING solo, but it didn’t come. I left to the faint sounds coming from the 12 member band that could’ve been far more powerful with just 1.

I’m sorry Sam, but this will be the last time I attend one of your shows, because I will never forgot the horrid experience I had during my experience with you on October 13th.

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