Concert Review: Iron & Wine

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            On May 13th, I had the pleasure of attending an Iron & Wine concert at the Carnegie Library Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA.  The venue, a traditional theatre complete with red velvet curtains, offered the perfect atmosphere for the hours of folk music to come.

            The Secret Sisters, a charming duo from Tennessee, opened the show.  Laura and Lydia Rogers paid tribute to the artists that inspire them (covering the likes of Patsy Cline and The Everly Brothers), alongside some original compositions from their upcoming sophomore album.  With a sound reminiscent of First Aid Kit, The Secret Sisters’ voices were something special.  Although their country twang may not have sat well with the indie crowd surrounding me, their unique harmonies were undeniably deserving of applause.  Most recently, the southern duo penned the song “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” for the Hunger Games soundtrack.

After a brief intermission, we finally got aPicturemusichall101 glimpse of Sam Beam’s beard.  Sam and his beard were followed out by something I did not expect however, and that was a twelve-piece band.  He was backed by a bassist, drummer, synth player, two violinists, a cellist, a brass/woodwind trio, and three female vocalists.  Personally, I prefer Iron & Wine’s stripped-down acoustic sound reminiscent of early albums like “Our Endless Numbered Days,” but “ghost on Ghost” steers the band in a newer, fuller direction.  Despite the wall of sound produced by the talented musicians behind him, Sam’s voice floated to my ears in his usual husky whisper.

Looking around me, I got a taste of Iron & Wine’s diverse following.  The band’s been around for over a decade now, and they’re still gaining new fans.  If this concert taught me anything about Sam Beam, it was that he’s an extremely kind and gracious man.  To everyone’s enjoyment, he performed a solo the-secret-sistersacoustic session while his band took a break, in which he took requests from the audience of any song he’s ever written.  No matter how many times the poor woman behind me yelled, “NAKED AS WE CAME!” it was the onslaught of slurred song titles (there was an open bar) that got to Sam first.  After an amusingly sincere stumble-through (he admitted to not practicing in his free time), the front man delivered three great throwbacks.  After he was rejoined by his band, Sam Beam finished out the concert with renewed energy.  A standing ovation brought him back onstage for an encore: his cover of “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service, which has arguably become more well-known than the original.

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I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Iron & Wine in concert, and I suggest keeping an ear out for their new sound.  Here are five songs I think you should know:

“House By The Sea”

“Love Vigilantes”

“Naked As We Came”

“Jezebel”

“Low Light Buddy of Mine”