With a packed Kent Stage audience hanging on his every word, Sam Beam and his four piece band, otherwise known as Iron & Wine, worked through songs from his decade long catalog last night, making the intimate show feel like a memorable living room performance. Iron & Wine has been stopping in Northeast Ohio since the mid-2000s, and with every tour comes a different arrangement of musicians and songs. Last night’s performance featured Beam’s hushed melodies with reworked arrangements making many of his album’s gems feel like a joyous journey rather than a static destination.
Beam is never one to repeat the past, and in concert his songs are reworked depending on the band. This tour the band included drum and bass, and depending on the song banjo, mandolin, guitar, accordion and organ. His studio songs become merely a starting point, as each song morphed into its own live character. Songs like set opener “Woman King,” “Tree By the River” and “House By the Sea” kept the crowd in awe, respectfully taking in the band’s magic. Beam commented as much, repeatedly making the set feel like a dialogue with the audience, graciously thanking it for being so attentive and making the show so much fun. During a mini solo acoustic set in the middle of the show this came full circle, as Beam asked for requests, which led to one jokester in the audience to yell the obligatory “Freebird.” Taking the request to heart, Beam proceeded to noodle around with the song for a few verses in his carefully metered tone, then joking “better watch what you ask for, bitches.” After injecting a moment of levity, Beam unleashed a beautiful “Lion’s Mane” from his 2002 debut that, along with the rest of the set, left us with goosebumps.
The Secret Sisters opened the evening with their own brand of hauntingly beautiful harmonies. Sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers worked mesmerizing two-part harmonies from their recent T Bone Burnett album Put Your Needle Down, including stellar versions of “Iuka” and “Rattle My Bones,” leaving the stage to roaring applause.