02 October 2007

Iron and Wine @ Orpheum Theatre - 27 September

Last week was a rough week pour moi, so thankfully I had a ticket in hand for some live music, something I haven't enjoyed since mid-summer, ie way way too long. The music that would fill my ears this evening would be provided by Iron and Wine, touring in support of their, er his, new album The Shepherd's Dog. My week called for more of a head-banging rock yer ass off kind of cure, but I'll take what I can get at this point. Beam's backing band was larger than expected, but expectedly excellent. Piano/keys (with an actual baby grand on stage, though underused), female vocals/percussion/fiddle, drums, percussion, guitar/accordian etc, bass, and pedal steel...a nice full octet that brought a lushness to Beam's already lush songs. The new tunes lend themselves more to a live full band setting, though on this night I really thought the sparser (generally older) material worked better. The show as a whole lacked a little something, a show-stopper yes, but more specifically those live moments that just make your face light up and that stick with you long after. The music was more fleeting here. But consistently it was beautiful and quite enjoyable.
Some videos:

Beam interestingly chooses to play History of Lovers, which was originally recorded with Calexico, as a solo piece. The show was not lacking for rearrangements of the album material. Though in many instances I probably would prefer the album arrangement. Also some major flubs on this one...

The opener was Arthur and Yu. They had a nice sound, somewhat of a retro-pop thing. The album tracks I could find online have some great harmonies between Arthur and Yu, but live this was almost completely lost unfortunately. Her voice was not miced properly, she had almost no projection and her light and airy voice was nearly lost. I will keep my eye on them, I enjoy the recordings I found moreso than the live set I saw, though as they mentioned it was the biggest room they ever played, so they get a pass on that. They're opening for Great Lake Swimmers in Boston tomorrow night at the Middle East Upstairs so if you're headed to that they are definitely worth getting there a little early for.

Speaking of the room, a word on the venue. The Orpheum Theatre. What a shithole. But it shouldn't be. It's the old classic theater venue that every city seems to have. But it is neglected and is in serious need of an overhaul. The tickets are generally overpriced, but they put no money back into the venue. And were so cheap as to not turn on the air at all during the show making for one hot and sticky evening, and this show was not sold out and no one was dancing. So no blame to excessive body heat on that one. The seats are old and dingy but for some reason you can't bring your overpriced beer to enjoy at your seat. This place makes no sense. The sound left a lot to be desired as well. I don't know how much would be to blame on the venue for this one, but there was an audible hiss throughout the show that made it feel like I was listening to a 4th gen cassette recording of the show. They had a history of the theater slide show running in between sets that listed Jerry Garcia as a recent performer. As recently as when? Morons...

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