Sam Beam better known as Iron & Wine is a brave man. Dressed in a gray suit and without a backing band, Beam performed a fearless acoustic set at CMAC in Canandaigua, New York on Thursday night in front of a packed house that was mainly awaiting headlining act Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. While the thought of a solo show at an ampitheater might be cringe-worthy, Beam won over the crowd with an easy smile and chilled out demeanor as he played faithful reditions of his lo-fi classics and stripped down his most robust compositions.
Let’s face it you can only go so far in an acoustic show with all of its nakedness unless you’re a rock n roll legend and even then it still might suck. Iron & Wine did fill the space with more sound than his voice and guitar allowed and he dropped a few ace lines that provided occasional cinematic imagery. Stripping back his own material revealed just how heavenly Beam’s songwriting is which was evidenced by the opening number, “Tree By The River.” Other tunes including “Caught in the Briars” were given intimate interpretations that sounded as satisfying as their full-bodied cousins.
While not spellbinding, the best thing about catching Iron & Wine’s performance at CMAC was seeing Beam in his prime and at his creative peak. There was a bit of hushed reverence at times at the concert and some even gave him a standing ovation at the end. 7.7
Photo credit: Roman Divezur