Iron & Wine | 09.30 | New York

Words by Eamon Foley :: Images by Robert Chapman

Iron & Wine :: 09.30.07 :: Town Hall :: New York, NY

Iron & Wine :: 09.30 :: Town Hall
Iron & Wine played an enjoyable if non-vintage performance in New York's historical Town Hall. Promoting latest album The Shepherd's Dog (released on September 25 through Sub Pop records) frontman Sam Beam brought along a full band to help broadcast his beefed-up sound. While the music itself was great, and featured some inspired instrumental interplay, the show lacked that spark that adds the fourth dimension to a record and leaves you buzzing.

The night featured no shortage of jams - they finished almost every song with one - Beam leading with guitar over great drumming by Chad Taylor (of Sea and Cake) and the magic of Paul Niehaus (Calexico) on pedal steel. With the new backing band, there is more substance to Iron and Wine's sound but they retain that easy Southern vibe. Following Beam's lead, the instruments meshed well like friends, conversation and a good bottle of vino.

Sam Beam :: 09.30 :: Town Hall
The night featured a mix of old ("Jezebel") and new stuff, and while the majority of the set could be lazily described as good ol' fashioned rock & roll, the difference and evolution between past and present was clear. The new album is far more experimental and has a distinct folky feel with African highlights, infinitely fuller thanks to Beam being joined by his mates (members of Calexico return to build on joint project In The Reins from 2005).

Between now and December they are touring between home and Europe, and their shows should please die-hard fans. To his gentle voice he has added depth through his seven or so talented companions. Leroy Bach (ex-Wilco) on keys, ever-present guitarist Patty McKinney and the understated bass of Matt Lux (Isotope 217), all play a part but Sam Beam remains the star.

He didn't leave his sparse sound with coat check however - the encore was a mellow "History of Lovers" accompanied by just his sister Sarah (violin and backing vocals), and Niehaus. Even with the band bouncing along behind him, the intimacy and soothing quality of his vocals was never lost.

The jams themselves were enjoyable and rollicking, but while his charm shone through, a lot of his plucking was done with his back to the crowd. Interaction - for me a key element of a show - was minimal throughout. Treading in the footsteps of performers such as Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Louis Armstrong over the last 85 years, Beam came off as somewhat lacking in presence. Rather than this grandiose setting, the original venue where there's "not a bad seat in the house", to me an Iron & Wine gig might be better spent laid out in a park, eyes closed and letting the words and music sink in under a setting sun.

Fair play to Beam for not resting on his laurels. Like a good year's grape harvest his music constantly develops and matures, never staying the same. Tonight the music pleased the senses but the performance was somewhat lacking - for this reason, I'll continue to enjoy his records and look forward to the next, but likely refrain from sampling him live.

Iron & Wine tour dates available HERE.

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[Published on: 10/15/07]

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RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/15/2007 04:23PM
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This guy is fabulous. Only complaint, play Austin more!!! Be at the tour closer at La Zona Rosa or be square.

DaKracken Mon 10/15/2007 10:21PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I am friends of sorts with a guy (Troy Teague) who was the drummer for Iron & Wine so I was compelled to go to their show in Charleston and add some support and see what all the hype was about with Mr. Beam. All I can say is it didn't work for me or any of the music loving folks I was hanging with that night. I found Iron & Wine to be one of the most boring bands I have ever had to endure, absolutely no stage presence-you can't even hear the guy sing most of the time (not due to band sound either). Hung out with some other band members after the show and shared some beers hoping to see a glimpse of personality to no avail. Just week sauce all the way around and a complete waste of my money that night. I know to each his own and I am extremely open minded to music/musicians but I really can't stand this band. I am not hating on them, I am glad people like them and they make a living playing music but I get annoyed when people reference this band/man as visionary. peace

j-bizzle Tue 10/16/2007 09:58AM
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USC boy likes em - they must suck

emgriffi starstarstarstar Tue 10/16/2007 10:23AM
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This music is not for everone's taste, however I enjoy it and I can't stand the USC Trojan Boy. He turned one of the posts into an espn recount of how cool it is to be a Trojan fan. Who the fuck cares.

Kayceman Tue 10/16/2007 02:43PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Not sure what it's worth, but Iron & Wine's new album "The Shepherd's Dog" is top 5 of the year for me. I've never been too impressed (although never been bored or pissed off) by Beam live, but man, the new record is amazing; perhaps the best "folk" (if you can call it that) album in years (speaking just personally of course, that's all any of this is, opinion). Some music is definitely better suited for sitting and listening (i recommend headphones), check out "Wolves," "Boy With a Coin" and "House By The Sea" - shit, just check the whole record, it floors me every time. Crazy weird acoustic noises, African highlife guitar notes, layered as all hell, and just flat out amazing lyrical work. You can stream it on MySpace:

mary760 starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/22/2007 06:13PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Music! I like it very much! And i find something interesting @ .There have all kinds of music!Crazy weird acoustic noises, African highlife guitar notes, layered as all hell, and just flat out amazing lyrical work.Have fun on it!

mrkrinkle6884 starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/4/2007 09:18AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Only got to see Iron & Wine once and that was at Bonnaroo. Changed my life...