The curse is broken. The number of times I have purchased tickets for a show in Dublin's Olympia Theatre and been unable to attend was beginning to get ridiculous. The last time it happened (Wilco in 2009 me thinks) I swear I thought my little bleeding heart was going to break.
When Iron And Wine were confirmed way back before Christmas for a March 14th show I discovered that I had no way back to Cork that night with prior engagements meaning that it was a must I be in Cork for 9am come Tuesday morning. Typical. However arrangements were made and a lift was 100% guaranteed for the Monday night after the show. Tickets were bought, we all laughed and proceeded to enjoy the shit out of Christmas. Zoom forward.
Waking up on Sunday morning the dreaded text of doom flashed ominously on my "smart" phone. The lift had fallen through. To make matters worse a second text populated my gadget (that also happens to allow users to make phone calls) requesting I turn up on Tuesday as early as possible. Dang. The easiest call to make was to simply not go. Screw that.
The show began at 8pm with the extremely impressive Daniel Martin Moore playing a half hour set. It would be very easy to simply stick the Kentuckian in the country/alt-country box but Moore's songs are as steeped in gospel as anything else. This is definitely the case with the material from his 2011 release In The Cool Of The Day, composed of a mixture of old tunes and a few of his own. Introducing the title song with words of praise for the original composer, Jean Ritchie, and, having seen DMM in London just a week ago in which he did likewise, it is obvious Moore is an adoring admirer who is using his current tour (if he did not do so previously) to spread the word of his idol. We are also given a short background to "Flyrock Blues", from 2010's Dear Companion (a collaboration with Ben Sollee), and the horribly interesting concept of Mountaintop Removal which is as horribly black and white as the name suggests. See the website here for more.
Twice in little over a week I got to see and hear (and chat with) Daniel Martin Moore. The highest compliment I can pay him is that I look forward to seeing him again. I also both two cds (the shiney discy things that, sadly, people do not seem to buy anymore)!
So all going good on my first visit to the Olympia Theatre. Nice seat (down in the stalls to the right), good atmostphere in the crowd and the sound was great.
What was noticeable during Daniel Martin Moore's slot was the amount of instruments/equipment onstage (not in use by DMM and his band). This was not to be a solo acoustic performance that we have come to know and love so well from Sam Beam. Any scepticism quickly dissipated.
Arriving onstage at approximately 9pm with a full band (eight members including Sam) it was quite clear that Mr. Beam was in a very good mood. "Rabbit Will Run", from the latest album Kiss Each Other Clean, gave us (well myself anyway) a first taste of the new material live. Electric guitar, drums, synths, saxophone, was this really Iron And Wine? Crashing into the opening number the energy and sheer volume emanating from the stage was unexpected but very welcome. Quickly followed by another new number it was great to see an artist, so used to playing by myself, relaxed and enjoying the company of some extremely talented musicians. This was most apparent in the way so much of the back catalogue was rearranged to suit the tour. Everyone hopes to see the oldies but I was a little worried that the show may just switch to an acoustic set and lose the energy and tempo the band had so quickly built.Thankfully this was not to be the case as the set at times became a guess-the-song-from-the-intro game as the strengths of the backing band were utilized to great effect with a highlight being a version of "Lion's Mane" from The Creek Drank The Cradle.
It really is a credit to Sam Beam's songwriting skills that he can create such an accomplished setlist calling on songs from all four studio albums and yet the crowd are requesting B-Sides (such as "The Trapeze Swinger" and "Belated Promise Ring" which were not played). On top of that he has been able to seamlessly mold the 100% acoustic and mostly solo earlier material into a set with the later fuller material. Other standout numbers included "Walking Far From Home", "Wolves" and "Me And Lazarus". An encore of "Naked As We Came", a favourite of mine, topped off the night. Favourite gig of the year so far and my Olympia curse finally broken. I even managed to make it back to Cork Tuesday morning on time. Well. Relatively on time.