“You guys have the back catalog,” said an amused Sam Beam to the audience at The Sayer’s Club in Hollywood on Friday night. The Iron & Wine frontman was without a prepared set list, so he fielded calls for tracks like “Woman King” and “Jesus the Mexican Boy” from his pre-Shepherd’s Dog albums.
The event — organized by SoCal public radio affiliate KCRW as an invite-only show — paired Beam with Glen Hansard, the Oscar-winning Once songwriter. The artists, who share a manager in Howard Greynolds, had a coin toss to decide who played first, with the Iron & Wine folk singer opening.
As Beam noted wryly, the crowd was comprised of “People who helped me along the way and maybe people who will.”
Beginning with “Caught in the Briars,” the opening track of his upcoming album Ghost on Ghost (April 16), Beam alternated between resurfacing older material and previewing new tracks like “Low Light Buddy of Mine.” But songs like “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” (featured on the Twilight soundtrack) and 2008 single “Boy with a Coin” received more enthusiasm from the mostly standing crowd.
After a few requests from the crowd, Beam quipped, “There’s a misconception that we sit around practicing all the time.”
When he started strumming the opening chords to the nine minute opus “The Trapeze Swinger” the folk singer had to stop short, laughing, after one enthused audience member broke the room’s rapt attention with a gleeful shout.
Warming the crowd with his “golden vocal chords,” as Beam described, Hansard arrived on stage and played from Rhythm and Repose, his 2012 release. His song “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting” included a segue to a few lines in tribute to Nick Drake. Later he left his microphone behind during “Say It To Me Now” from the Once soundtrack.
At one point, after the former Dublin street musician snapped a guitar string, he started telling an anecdote about the time he ran into Marilyn Manson in the restroom of a L.A. hotel bar and ended up hanging out with the rock star at his home. It was “crazy,” Hansard said, deciding against too much elaboration.
When Hansard returned to play an encore, the crowd, as they had been accustomed to doing all night, shouted a request of “Falling Slowly” to which the songwriter replied: “Really? OK.” He ended up delivering an impressive version of the Oscar-winning song, even without, as he noted, accompaniment by Eddie Vedder or Markéta Irglová.
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