I’ve had music on the brain this week, much more so than usual. Maybe it’s because I listened to a lot of forgotten songs while cleaning up my iTunes library. Maybe it’s because I’m loving the Peter Gabriel tape I found in the car I bought recently (bonus!). Maybe it’s because I’ve been home alone and filling the silence now that I’m without a TV for a while. Or perhaps it has something to do with all of the top notch musicians wending their way through town in the past few days on their way to or from Sasquatch.
Whatever it is, quite a few of my musical cravings were soothed last night by the show I saw at my favorite historic theater – The Head and the Heart opening for Iron and Wine.
To be honest, the Iron and Wine set was really different from what I expected. As NPR so nicely put it, “On his latest album, Sam Beam’s whispery folk has morphed into a many-tentacled colossus of a band.” He had two drummers. Three backup singers (including Markéta Irglová of Once/Swell Season fame). A horn section. It was way more rock/funk than the very mellow music I’ve come to know. Despite Sam Beam’s total lack of stage charisma last night, it was an excellent show, helped immensely by the ultra-talented backup musicians and the energy of one in particular, who rocked out in a linen jacket and pink shirt (and braved questioning looks from his trumpet-playing neighbor) while nailing flute, clarinet, an instrument I didn’t even recognize during the haunting encore of “He Lays in the Reins,” and more than one amazing sax solo. Just watching his excitement and joy and talent was worth the cost of admission.
A live version of “He Lays in the Reins” with the band Calexico:
I won’t pretend to write eloquently about music. I’ll leave that to all of the blogs (one in particular) and radio stations gushing over The Head and the Heart, but they were fabulous as the opening band. It’s always fun to watch a band early in their rise, when they’re still figuring out their style and their stage presence. When the quirks haven’t yet been ironed out. They alternated between lovely ballads and stomping and clapping, sometimes within the same song. They harmonized beautifully. And here and there one of them stepped up to bust out a solo singing moment that actually gave me goosebumps – these moments of shocking loveliness – singing on tiptoes, one step away from careening off course and hitting the wrong note but keeping it just at arm’s length, in a way that was really mesmerizing.
A sextuplet of attractive, talented young musicians bringing clapping back into the mainstream? I’m all for it. We will be hearing more from them in the months to come, I’m sure. I was pleased just to hear a bit of them, in all of their dancing and singing and stomping and clapping glory, last night.
The Head and the Heart, Lost in My Mind
The Head and the Heart, Down in the Valley (I also liked the YouTube video of this song live in Seattle)
The Head and the Heart, Josh McBride (from the beautiful Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions)
Tip: If you join their mailing list, you’ll get two of these songs to download, Lost In My Mind and Down In The Valley, for free!
(all photos by me)