Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine, played to a sold out audience on Saturday night at the Boulder Theater. Touring behind what is arguably one of the best albums of 2011, Kiss Each Other Clean, Beam and his ten member band led listeners on a romantic ride through the old and the new of the I&W catalog.
Listening to the dense and thorough instrumentation on the new record, one may have wondered how the tracks would pan out in a live setting. Beam brought the entire crew—bass, guitar, drums, percussion, keys, a three piece horn section, and two female back up singers—took to the stage, and did justice to several songs from Kiss, as well as older, more seasoned numbers.
The upbeat, horn driven beginning of “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough for Me” wound up like a top into pivotally dark guitar notes mid-song, and then began to unwind in a simultaneously tragic and radiantly hopeful revelation. On “Half Moon,” Beam’s soothing vocals surely stole hearts as they danced back and forth with light female backing vocals in a display that was nothing short of moving.
Beam’s soft-spoken songs came across as somewhat of a spiritual sermon (despite a very mumbling, and at times, less than attentive crowd) matched by a flattering backing band. The horns were on, as were drums, keys, guitar and bass. While the production may have been a far cry from early I&W performances (where Beam took to the stage without much more than an acoustic guitar), all of the soul pent up in that long bearded man was hardly stifled and merely complimented. The songs from Kiss not only upped the ante in terms of production, but also employed a very inviting, catchy element of 70s pop music that is equally appealing in terms of nostalgia and suavity.
Opening with a sonically enhanced “Boy with a Coin,” I&W ran through “God Made the Automobile,” “Freedom Hangs Like Heaven,” and “Summer In Savannah” before delving into the surely highly anticipated “Walking Far From Home,” the opening track from Kiss. The well received “Tree By the River” and “Arms of a Thief” helped round out the evening along with “Lion’s Mane” and “Bird Stealing Bread,” ensuring that Beam fans new and old all left the venue genuinely satisfied and at peace.