Iron and Wine’s Tuesday evening performance at NYC’s Beacon Theatre (May 14) began with a full band backing Samuel Beam for several songs from the recent Nonesuch release Ghost on Ghost

While the new album illustrates how far Beam has come as an artist, the capacity crowd appeared eager to hear favorites from earlier in his career. And, they didn’t have to wait long. Three songs in to the show, Beam stood alone onstage and took requests – giving the 3,000-seat venue the intimate feel of a bar with peanut shells on the floor.

The audience yelled out suggestions and Beam playfully responded. One request caused Beam to confide to the crowd, "I'd love to play that for y'all but it's been so long … Tonight, I'd rather be a singer than a butcher." 

Following his endearing display of humor and humility, Beam launched into a string of older pieces with "Upward Over The Mountain" from his 2002 debut album, The Creek Drank the Cradle. Along with these tunes from yesteryear came the occasional fumble and self-deprecating laugh at how little he practices his own songs (“Hey, if I played the old ones all the time I wouldn't have time to write the new ones.”)

The full band came back out for more selections from the new album and a sexy reworking of Jezebel, from the 2005 EP Woman King. The band was tight and the songs from Ghost on Ghost were accessible with more of an adult contemporary flair. It was the kind of show that spares you the earworm hooks of pop music and leaves you blissfully floating away on waves of warmth and charm. On behalf of a grateful audience, thank you Sam Beam.

For Iron and Wine tour information, click here.

(Review by Sarah Renfro
Photo by Craig Kief)