In many ways, the show was separated into three independent parts—logically divided into Iron & Wine, Iron & Wine and Calexico and Calexico. Sam Beam kicked the gig off by playing some of his mellower songs, mainly from Our Endless Numbered Days, but also a completely new song, amongst others. Having loved Beam’s voice and guitar picking only through records, I was afraid that I was to experience some sort of a let-down live, especially voice-wise. However, the silky touch of his voice was just as amazing live, leaving me nothing but stunned. Joining Beam on stage was his sister, Sarah Beam, playing the violin and tambourine amongst other contributions.
When members of Calexico one by one joined Beam on stage, the temperature rose. Iron & Wine pulled out his more up-tempo songs, where especially Woman King, Evening in the Ground (Lilith’s Song) and a heavily accompanied version of Teeth in the Grass were setting the standard. In addition to highlights such as these, we were presented with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrow’s Parties. Lovely!
I was somewhat surprised by Sam’s scenic presence. Whilst being rather distanced from the audience when playing, he entertained us all in between his songs by opening up for small, modest jokes and thereby creating a livelier atmosphere in the locale. Joey Burns of Calexico was even better in this sense, as he often initiated more direct conversations with the spectators, getting plenty of response in return.
After collaborating on some songs, including a couple from In the Reins, the bands took a ten minute break, giving the audience a moment to breathe in the overheated venue. Making his appearance after the break was the magnificent Salvador Duran, a Mexican musician who contributes on the above-mentioned EP. Equipped with a voice I could and would have killed for at any given day, so powerful and strong, he overwhelmed a mesmerized audience. Alongside such fabulous vocals, his unorthodox style surprised me, as well as everyone else in the building. Salvador Duran was least to say energetic, as he made animal noises in the midst of his vocal stanzas, used his feet as percussion, whilst he mastered both the guitar and the harmonica to an extent close to perfection. Needless to say, Duran made a tremendous impression on me, and I would like all of you to check him out sometime soon.
Following Duran was Calexico. The band played a great number of songs, and their mariachi-inspired approach to the indie rock genre really heated up the place. Unfortunately, my knowledge and relationship to Calexico pre-concert was very limited, stretching only to the degree of barely a two-digit number of songs. However, I found myself enjoying their music, and I sure want to deepen myself in their music in the future, although I think that it fits quite a bit better in a live format than it does on record. Well, well, I guess I will have to catch their next show here as well, then.
During the show, my mind often wandered off to thinking about the incredible amount of multi-instrumentalists represented on stage. In addition to Sam’s sister, which I have mentioned earlier on, several members of Calexico proved their musicality by playing, and truly mastering, a great number of instruments. With that being said, I must also express the impression the musicians made on me whilst playing their main instruments. Especially the drummer and co-founder of Calexico, John Convertino, dazed me with some of his striking performances.
Even though I enjoyed Calexico and their on-stage performance, I must admit that I really longed for Sam Beam to make yet another entrance. Unfortunately this did not occur until the first of two encores that were made. When the song played was He Lays in the Reins, however, my waiting proved not in vain. With all of Calexico’s members, Salvador Duran and Sam Beam on stage at one and the same time, playing such an outstanding song, my concert experience was given a great lift.
The second encore featured only the members of Calexico, so it was buh-bye to Sam Beam for me, at least for this time. Going out with a bang, Calexico played an excellent cover of Current 93’s equally excellent song All the Little Horses. It was definitely a cover song I did not expect, but since I have grown fond of Current 93’s music, it was nevertheless a pleasant surprise.
Then the summary… I honestly do not know what to say. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert as a whole, as many of my favourite songs were played. Both artists were great on stage, and the totally astonishing performance by Salvador Duran was absolutely remarkable. The only objection I have with the show was the lack of appearances by Sam Beam during the last half of the concert. Nevertheless, it was money well spent, three hours well spent and I am now one hell of an experience richer.