Love and Some Verses
Iron & Wine, with Blitzen Trapper
Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I've often lamented on here that despite being obsessed with music, I sometimes feel like I can't keep up with it. Sunday night was another example that despite my best efforts, I seem to be increasingly out of touch with what's going on. I was surprised when I first heard that Iron & Wine were playing the Ryman, and I was even more surprised that they were able to fill the place. There were a few empty seats in the top corners of the balcony, but other than that it was basically packed with enthusiastic fans.
The first part of their set felt more like a recital than a concert. Sam Beam spent the initial half hour with just his guitar and his sister Sarah on harmony vocals, with occasional accompaniment on piano and accordion. After several songs of subdued acoustic mellowness, he brought out the rest of his five piece band, and the evening's arrangements became increasingly more exotic. Beam announced at the beginning of the show that he was battling a cold, and for the rest of the night the breaks between songs were peppered with reminders from the audience for him to drink his tea. There were also multiple declarations of love shouted out, almost entirely from dudes. As Sam himself pointed out at one point, at least no one called for "Freebird."
Blitzen Trapper opened the show with a set that was like a tour through the wonderful world of late 60s/early 70s rock. The Portland sextet kicked off the evening with a couple of jaunty pop tunes. Mid-set, singer Eric Earley strapped on an acoustic guitar, and suddenly seemed to be channeling the spirit of Bob Dylan. Once he put away the harmonica, the band wrapped up their set with a pair of psychedelic freakouts. It felt a bit weird to have the opening act be so much more animated than the headliner, but for a Sunday night show at country music's mother church, it worked surprisingly well.
Iron and Wine - "Innocent Bones" (mp3) from The Shepherd's Dog
Blitzen Trapper - "Furr" (mp3) from Furr
photo by Laura O'Neil