Iron & Wine – The Gov Tuesday 27 May 2018.
Words Geoff Jenke
Confession time. I could have winged this review and pretended I knew all about this band or in particular Sam Bean. I knew nothing before attending this show. I went along on the strength of the write up on The Gov web site alone. It sounded like it maybe a good show. There, I am being honest.
Sam Beam aka Iron & Wine released his first album in 2002 and since has had a further 5 studio albums released as well as various download, single and E.P releases. He has several songs used in movies, including Flightless Bird, American Mouth in the Twilight movie.
Tonight, the Gov was near capacity, which I must admit surprised me, and the audience gave Melbournite Fraser A Gorman a resounding cheer as he walked on stage. I was quite surprised at how quiet the audience was once he started. Usually during the support artist, you can hear a constant murmur throughout the room, but tonight they were hanging on to every word. The opening song sounded a bit like Dylan, both in vocals and sound. However, I picked up a definite Wilco influence in later songs, confirmed by him doing a cover of the Jeff Tweedy song Radio King. He was promoting his new album and told the crowd he will be back in August with his band to play The Grace Emily, quickly adding that The Gov is a great venue as well.
Iron & Wine opened with Trapeze Swinger and again the audience were deathly silent and also there were hardly any mobile phones being used. The audience were giving the performers on stage something that is lacking these days at concerts, respect, by actually listening to and watching the band. House by the Sea came next and it started to sound like the band had forgotten how to finish the song as it went on and on, perhaps a little too long. We were told there would be old and new songs and that there were so many songs to play, they would have to play them fast.
Special mention to percussionist Beth Goodfellow for wonderful angelic backing vocals. She had the voice of an angel. The backing band consisted of a cello player, a keyboard, drummer and bass player who also doubled on some wonderful haunting surreal lead guitar. All the members playing under a bank of woolly clouds suspended above them.
As the audience remained quiet during the performance, Sam commented it must be the usual Adelaide Tuesday crowd. In the middle of the set, Sam played a 3-song solo mini set which included a cover of The Postal Services Such Great Heights.
The band returned with Muddy Hymnal, giving Eliza Jones a chance to impress us all with her keyboard playing. Wolves, Dearest Forsaken and About a Bruise rounded out an 18-song set.
When the band returned for the encore, the two girls wore fake beards. I am sure why but maybe it was just making fun at their lead main man, Sam Bean, with his full growth. It was to be only a one song encore with the beautiful The Truest Stars We Know being played.
I am now a convert. He has been compared to Neil Young but I don’t see the comparison. What I saw was a man with a soul bearing voice and finely-honed songs. It hard to put a genre on his music. Maybe Americana folk, but artist this good don’t need labels put on them.
When he comes back (“in a decade or so” he joked), I will make sure know most of his songs. Oh, and he likes our red wines so he is a great bloke.
Photo by Kay Cann