Iron and Wine @ Corona Theatre – 4th November 2018

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Samuel “Sam” Ervin Beam paid Montreal a visit after almost 4 years of absence ever since he played at the 2015 Osheaga festival. Who is Sam Beam?, no other than the indie composer and musician best known as Iron & Wine, who just released an a 6-song album titled “Weed Garden”, named so not because of the recently legalized plant but because the songs that are in the EP were weeds left over from his previous album “Beast Epic”.

The autumn night at the Corona Theatre was full of people from all backgrounds and being there felt like being inside a “Where is Waldo?” game, how so? You might ask, well, every 10 minutes or so I would run into a character or characters.

It started as soon as I stood in line to enter the venue when the couple in front of me waiting to enjoy the show couldn’t find their tickets, but the unique part of the scene was that it was that they were on their first date and they were getting to know each other. A few minutes later, less than 8 minutes into the set a lone guy started speaking very loudly, being clearly (very) drunk and embarrassing the person he was with.

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Soon after there were more people that seems to pop up, such as the very tall man that stood very close to the scene, the coat checkers speaking loudly and laughing while quite vulnerable songs were being played, the three babies on slings or a couple of ladies that were during 80% of the show starting at their phone with full brightness in the middle of the crowd during what was supposed to be an intimate show. It was all very distracting, to say the least, but it made a memorable show very unforgettable.

Now for the show itself, if you were to stop reading right now just take away the fact that the other time that I felt so immersed in the music and in awe of the musicians that were on stage was during the David Crosby concert from last year, which curiously enough was also in November. Maybe it is the cold autumn night feeling that adds that extra crispiness and melancholy to a show.

The musicians accompanying Iron & Wine were top-notch, from the drummer who not only kept the heartbeat of all songs but also sang impeccable, to the cellist adding an extra layer of depth to many songs while accentuating many moments with avant-garde movements and noises.

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The only thing that felt out of place was the place itself, or at least the floor section of the theatre because standing there with arms crossed, tired feet and partially blocked vision (thanks tall guy!) on an intimate show that seemed almost like a classic MTV unplugged concert felt somewhat forced. Then again maybe the parallels I was drawing and the memories I was clinging on to with the Crosby show where too strong.

Song after song, the masterful storytelling of Sam’s songs shined through his guitar, his voice and his band, and all was illuminated and framed gracefully and beautifully by cotton clouds that hung from the ceiling and shone depending on the mood and according to the song.

Modern music is safe as it has an excellent troubadour in Iron & Wine, a name in its own right.

Review & photos – Ricardo D. Flores

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