I had the pleasure of seeing Iron and Wine last night on the first date of their UK tour. Beards and tanktops, I was prepared for. The usual Emmerdale cast members in the crowd, I was prepared for. The level of funkiness, I was not prepared for. Folks, for a band that look like geography teachers, this lot know how to rock.
They rocked out in a set that drew heavily on their new album and it took a fair while for the audience to warm up. Like Laura Veirs' album earlier this year, this new one has a much bigger and fuller sound - the Calexico stuff has obviously rubbed off - and it is very different from their earlier releases. The band (all eight of them - I couldn't even work out what a couple of them were playing) told us that they were "blowing the dust off", but they were tight, precise and heavy on the steel guitar and handclaps. Perfectly lonesome.
Don't fear the change. The new album is superb - layered and complex, but still sounding as organic and dreamy as the earlier stripped down stuff. I think it's all in Sam Beam's easy delivery.
How does he remember all those words?
Listen - Iron and Wine - Carousel
Listen - Iron and Wine - Resurrection Fern