Sam Beam reaches Such Great Heights...

After a near frost-bitten congregation was finally allowed entrance into the historic Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee last Thursday, February 8, Sam Beam, sans band Iron and Wine, quickly warmed us all with his seductive hymnals and lullabies. While gracing the stage with nothing but his carefully tuned Taylor acoustic guitar, glass of red wine and omnipresent beard; Beam experimented with material from his new album such as tracks Carousel and Resurrection Fern. Long time fans were not disappointed, however, as you could hear a pin drop, or certainly a shutter release, when old friends such as Muddy Hymnal, Sodom South Georgia and Naked As We Came commanded authority over the Pabst, built in 1895 . A nod to Tucson Arizona's Calexico was also given when Beam strummed out songs such as He Lays in Reins and Dead Man's Will - from their collaborative effort EP In the Reins (2005) - although in a hushed and candid version, with Joey Burns and John Convertino nowhere to be found.

Sam Beam's lyrics and tone, normally synced with sister Sarah's harmony, intrigue and evoke passion that flames for raw yet proficient guitar work and smoky, soothing song. There is nothing quite like the music that Sam Beam produces, with lyrics organic and at times intellectually indecipherable, that leave you with an indelible energy of hope and optimism. Exposure to his live performance leaves you vulnerable and somehow hypnotized, with his melodies venturing deep, kidnapping you, taking you by surprise.

Our dearly departed friend, Mississippi Nights, housed Beam, along with the rest of Iron and Wine and friends Calexico during their performance on December 13, 2005. Certainly more electric than Beam's solo performance, all involved could barely fit on MN's cozy stage. I'm certain I'm not the only one in St. Louis that strongly hopes to welcome Beam, with any friends he would like to bring, back to the show me state for another unforgettable evening.
Photos and text by Joanna Kleine