“A Minor! Yes, I love that chord,” Samuel Beam said on stage after pausing for the third time through the intro of “Boy with a Coin.” Mocking the crowd who began to clap every time he began another song, he then posed the question, “Do you even know what song I’m about to play? Really?” (Of course, “Boy with a Coin” has a distinct opening riff, listen here, but he has a point). In the audience’s defense however, considering how dedicated they proved to be throughout the evening, I wouldn’t put it past them to know the opening riff to every tune. Snuggled into the historic Charleston Music Hall on a Sunday evening, the performance given by Samuel Beam under the pseudonym Iron and Wine was impressive, regardless of if you knew every tune or not.
The Secret Sisters opened for the South Carolina native, with bluesy country tunes that only progressively saddened as their set went on, much to their humor. According to the sisters, if country music makes you want to get up and dance then you just aren’t (excuse me, *ain’t) doing it right. The sisters mixed up their set with a few of their own recordings such as “Tennessee Me” (which has a music video they claimed to be a tad awkward, check it out here), covers from beloved country crooners and jokes regarding their experiences on the road and home state of Alabama. As pointed out, “We still have all our teeth but you know, you want to fit in with your natives, right?” Laura Rodgers said before glancing over to her sister, Lydia, and taunting, “So come here.”
Oh and a side note, If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games series, the sisters’ may sound slightly familiar as their “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” was featured on the soundtrack. Listen here, and see if you can recall the scene it was featured in.
Samuel took the stage shortly thereafter, with a personality that lifted the melancholic mood typically associated with his indie folk style. His commanding features and lion’s mane dominated the stage, with the same poise and power of his lone voice and acoustic guitar. Despite his broad demeanor, he was loose and sarcastic, calling for requests from the audience and finding humor in the little things. For instance, as the lighting engineers changed the colors with every song, he began guessing what each song’s hue would be and even making special requests. “This just seems like a very green song,” Sam said as he began strumming his guitar again.
Although the tour follows the recent release of Ghost on Ghost last spring, Samuel chose to perform a range of his compositions. Through taking requests from the audience, it became clear that Iron and Wine has been able to foster a loyal following, even with their first release dating back to over ten years ago. The crowd asked for tunes from every album released, even receiving an impressed response and approval of their suggestions from Samuel. He did interject a few times though to decide which record to play next, claiming he needed to balance it out, and after all, “You can’t always get what you want, like Mick Jagger, and he would know.”
As he toyed with old songs, occasionally forgetting a few lyrics and stopping, restarting and making a joke, the experience became even more intimate, as if he was merely playing a few songs for close friends instead of a sold out music hall. He had a tendency to stop halfway through as well, just to add in a thought that had occurred to him and evidently build up a little anticipation among the audience. He commented how lucky he was, noting that there are only a few jobs in the world where you can screw up and people clap for you.
Once he finished off the unpredictable set list, including a few favorites of “Sodom, South Georgia,” “Jesus the Mexican Boy,” and “The Trapeze Swinger,” Sam invited the Secret Sisters back on stage to conclude the show. The trio’s performance of “Such Great Heights” was one to remember and fitting for the emerging musicians. Yet the audience refused to let Iron and Wine slip away just yet, and the encore proceeded with the perfect choice of “Jezebel,” to end the evening.
Honestly, there is something about Iron and Wine’s music that just reaches into your heart and pulls up emotions while still putting you at ease. Sitting in the hall, gazing up at Samuel Beam as he proceeded through the next two hours left you enraptured. In that dark auditorium, nothing else mattered and the world seemed to turn a little slower, troubles grew less troublesome and everything became simple. That influence is likely why Sam was signed by Sub Pop records merely based on his home recordings and has received so much love for his music. If you have yet to listen to Iron and Wine, I’d suggest starting with Our Endless Numbered Days, the album that initially brought the spotlight over Sam.
When you get a chance to listen and fall in love, you can catch him again on a few of his upcoming tour dates. He’ll be traveling through Florida and Australia first but will coming back by Atlanta in May for the Shaky Knees Festival. From there, he’ll be stopping in at several other summer music festivals including the Hangout Festival Kick Off Party in May and the Firefly festival in June.