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Iron & Wine - Royal Oak Music Theatre, Detroit, 14/4/2011

  by Carl Bookstein

published: 23 / 4 / 2011

Iron & Wine - Royal Oak Music Theatre, Detroit, 14/4/2011


Carl Bookstein finds Iron and Wine to be on superb form at a spiritually arresting and thought provoking show at the Royal Oak Music Theatre in Detroit

There is a palpable sense of excitement in the air at the sold out Royal Oak Music Theatre as this night’s Iron and Wine show awaits. The full house crowd is packed, anticipating the entrance of Sam Beam and company. Stevie Wonder’s 'Have a Talk with God' is playing over the theatre’s sound system. The warm up band for the evening is the three men and one woman outfit, the Low Anthem. With soothing harmony vocals and unique instrumentation, including banjo and clarinet, their sound is homespun and folky. Included in a solid set is the easy soulful 'Matter of Time'. At 9:00 p.m. Iron and Wine hits the stage- Sam Beam is joined by ten additional musicians. Beam’s voice is in fine form on this night as Iron and Wine gets off to a perfect start with 'Boy with a Coin'. The three man horn section grooves right in. The band, including two girl back-up singers is sonically in synch, with Beam’s soft vocals in the forefront. Employing new arrangements suited to a large band, the sound is like evolved folk poetry with a dance beat. With a stage bathed in multi coloured light, Iron and Wine soon goes into the opening track from the new album, 'Kiss Each Other Clean'- 'Walking Far From Home'. The poignant lyric rings true: “I saw kindness and an angel crying 'Take me back home'”. The song’s imagery runs the gamut from sickness to blooming fruit trees. It is an impassioned number that hits the note as Beam recalls some kind of modern day biblical prophet. 'Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)', the title track from Iron and Wine’s 2007 breakthrough album 'Shepherd’s Dog', soon follows with a reggae inflected groove. Sam Beam, looking dapper in a dark suit, makes it clear to the audience that in concert, he and the band “like to do something slightly different from the record.” Next is a somewhat countrified version of 'Big Burned Hand' with an accent on flute and mandolin, followed by a lovely rendition of 'Half Moon'- both from the latest album. On 'Kiss Each Other Clean' Beam is showcased as a masterful storyteller exploring themes of lost love and religious revelation. Beam’s lyrics are dreamlike and poetic accompanied by easy melodies. 'The Devil Never Sleeps' ensues from there with its instantly recognizable lyric of “Everybody’s bitching there’s nothing on the radio.” A high energy level is maintained throughout. 'Me and Lazarus' is positively one of the concert’s highlights with a flavour that is subtle, but certified funk. Beam’s rich timbre vocals on the lyric of “Guess I had nowhere else to go” are affecting. 'House by the Sea' features first rate musicianship by the large, yet capable band that Iron and Wine has put forward on this night. Beam and company close with a gorgeous 'Tree by the River' followed by the fine 'Naked as We Came' encore. Iron and Wine is spiritually arresting and continually thought provoking. In the end, the audience feels blessed to have witnessed Iron and Wine on such a good night.

Picture Gallery:-
Iron & Wine - Royal Oak Music Theatre, Detroit, 14/4/2011

Iron & Wine - Royal Oak Music Theatre, Detroit, 14/4/2011

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