Concert Reviews

Over the Weekend ... Iron & Wine, Nick Urata and Tom Hagerman of Devotchka

Iron & Wine December 8, 2007 Paramount Theatre

“Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news,” I say to Maggie as she comes out of the balcony bathroom at the Paramount. “The good news is that, according to this [computer-printed sign taped to the wall], Nick and Tom from DeVotchKa are opening up the show instead of Arthur And Yu. The bad news is that Iron & Wine is playing solo and acoustic.”

“Oh, how come?” she asks, puzzled, though not all that disappointed.

“Effing snow, apparently.”

The Good News It’s not that I didn’t know the guys (and girl) in DeVotchKa were talented, but having never seen them live before, I didn’t quite understand the full scope of their awesomility. Tom Hagerman? Holy dexterity. Dude might as well have delivered a baby on stage tonight, the way he juggled the accordion, violin and antique miniature piano. How I didn’t burst into tears during “How It Ends” or catapult myself over the mezzanine railing in a frenzied display of sacrificial devotion during “Too Tired” or “Til the End of Time,” I’ll never understand. What I do understand is that Denver doesn't deserve you, DeVotchKa, though I sure was glad to see you tonight.

The Bad News Wasn’t even remotely bad. Breathtakingly intimate or painstakingly beautiful would be much more accurate. Sure, it would have been great if whiteout conditions and closed Interstates hadn’t stranded the entire rhythm section of Iron & Wine in Salt Lake City – thus denying me the pleasure of stomping and clapping my way through barnburners such as “Boy With A Coin” – but I have nothing to complain about. No, watching Sam Beam warble and trill his way through “Sodom, South Georgia,” “Woman King,” “Jezebel,” “Upward Over the Mountain,” “Flightless Bird, American Mouth,” and what felt like a dozen other songs with which to soundtrack a life well lived, well, it was a privilege.

About halfway through the show, when Maggie and I were no longer willing to leave Beam’s impromptu set (and, invariably set list) to chance, I took my cue from the rest of the audience (who had been hollering at Beam – and he back – all night), and cried out the title of our favorite song while Beam was tuning.

“Trapeeeeeze Swingerrrrrr!” I bellowed, much to my own chagrin.

“Thanks very much, man,” Beam responded in the mic, clearly flattered at my request.

“What about it?” he retorted with a laugh.

But some thirty or forty minutes later, as the last song of the night, he played it. He played it, and less than ten seconds in, both Maggie and the grown man directly across the aisle from us were in tears. Sweet tears – the kind that feel so goddamn good coming out you wonder why you don’t cry more often. Me? I didn’t cry; I couldn’t.

I was too busy smiling. -- Drew Bixby

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Sean Cronin