There’s something about the desert in the winter; especially in the valley of Phoenix Arizona. There’s a cold that sneaks into the bones... it's never really cold, at least for your average person, but it's chilling in a way that one would never expect. It's nights like this performers such as Iron & Wine act as the warmth for a July afternoon that sits idly in the recesses of your mind, reminding of its inevitable return. With a nonchalance of a true artist, and not a "Rock star," front-man Sam Beam took the stage with genuine modesty. As a fan and a follower of Iron & Wine going back for at least the last decade, this was only the second time being able to catch them live, and by far the most intimate setting imaginable, especially at this point in Iron and Wine's career.
Having been able to catch their main stage set at Sasqautch! Music Festival earlier in the year, there was a general understanding of how truly exceptional and grand Iron & Wine's current ensemble actually is, however being in a confined space like the Crescent Ballroom this realization was definitely amplified. Of course anyone who's been to a live performance of any musician can acknowledge that a live set is different than the recorded material, however Sam and friends demonstrated how even the most, soft, and serene arrangements, can be composed into powerful rock ballads. Yeah, Iron & Wine can, and most certainly does play rock. This was a shocking truth that literally took attendees off their feet, seeing how several individuals had to be helped out after fainting. The energy of the band bled over the crowd, bringing with it a euphoric bliss reminiscent of childhood summers, its understandable that for some, this is just too overwhelming.
Playing with, by what can really only be described as a small orchestral accompaniment, Sam Beam's powerful voice had to compete with the audience's attention, which was often being drawn to the powerful saxophone, clarinets, and even the beautiful opener Marketa Irglova (Swell Season) who could be seen throughout the set as back up vocals. With all the talent on stage, older more simplistic songs like, "Jesus the Mexican Boy,” and "Fever Dream," took on a new sound, turning beautiful soft chord progressions into haunting and ethereal displays of perfection.
The only complaint, if there can even really be one, is the lack of Arizona locals Calexico, for even a brief accompaniment on their song "He Lays in the Reins," which was Iron & Wine's encore. But now were just finding things to pick at.
1. Rabbit Will Run (Kiss Each Other Clean)
2. Me and Lazarus (Kiss Each Other Clean)
3. The Sea and the Rhythm (The Sea and the Rhythm)
4. Jesus the Mexican Boy (The Sea and the Rhythm)
5. Wolves (Song of the Shepard) (The Shepard’s Dog)
6. Walking Far From Home (Kiss Each Other Clean)
7. Lovesong of the Buzzard (The Shepard’s Dog)
8. Half Moon (Kiss Each Other Clean)
9. Big Burned Hand (Kiss Each Other Clean)
10. Morning (Around the Well)
11. God Made the Automobile (Around the Well)
12. In My Lady’s House (Woman King)
13. Free Until They Cut Me Down (Our Endless Number Days)
14. House By the Sea (The Shepard’s Dog)
15. Fever Dream (Our Endless Number Days)
16. Tree by the River (Kiss Each Other Clean
1. He Lays In the Reins (In the Reins)