I decided I’d write my first concert review for two reasons: one, I missed the release of “Ghost on Ghost” this summer; two, Iron & Wine is absolutely unbelievable in concert. Last Saturday, the 28th of September Iron & Wine visited the Sound Academy and Toronto, and I haven’t been the same since.
If you haven’t seen Sam Beam and crew in concert, GO. But before you do, shed all your beliefs of what a rock concert should be…or better yet, bring all your preconceptions with you and have your narrow mind rocked into enlightenment.
There aren’t many rock concerts (and make no mistake, despite his folk and fringe-folk catalogue, Iron & Wine puts on a rock-and-roll show) that will give you a 13-piece company complete with strings, brass and woodwind sections. Nor will many singers take requests for a significant portion of the show, debut a new song, play covers of your favourites and then bring back his 12 band members to somehow melt your face with a cello solo and bust your gut with a saxophone solo. Much of this may seem like wholly inappropriate hyperbole when applied to the humble folk singer from South Carolina, but believe me, I’d still be smiling ear to ear if my lips hadn’t fallen off my face during the show.
On another note, Beam was down to earth, chatting with fans during the show, apologizing for his mistakes, and even managing to laugh and smile about them instead of breaking his guitar. Perhaps the best moment of the show came when he reached down and snatched every ounce of power from the almighty security guard who was forcibly covering cell phone cameras: “Is that some kind of club policy? Because I don’t give a s*** if they record me.”
I’m also glad that Beam and I agree on what constitutes some of his best work…or at least what makes a good show: hits, classics, seven minute prog-folk epics, the emotional slow songs–and all the while his fellow musicians gave new meaning to a folk singer bringing a “full band” to his show. Their on stage antics were as entertaining as the brass solos. The band was dancing, laughing and genuinely having fun, all in concord with the fans behind the gate.
To summarize: Wow.
Beam thanked the audience between every song, sometimes even stopping mid song to fully recognize and gratify the fans who were showing him unabashed support so far from home, but I don’t think we’ll ever be able to thank him enough for the amazing show that he brought with him north of the border.
For your viewing pleasure, the NPR Tiny Desk Concert with Iron & Wine:
- Interview: Iron and Wine on Ghost on Ghost, Making Music and the Future (aestheticmagazinetoronto.com)
- Artists who inspire: Q interview with Sam Beam from Iron & Wine (alexandrarossworks.wordpress.com)