Live Review: Iron & Wine, The Head and the Heart; Langhorne Slim CANCELLED…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:59 pm June 6, 2011
Iron & Wine at Slowdown, June 5, 2011

Iron & Wine at Slowdown, June 5, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Where’s the Bright Eyes review? It’ll be online and in print Thursday.

Now what about last night? The best thing you can say about any opening band’s performance — especially a band whose material you’ve never heard before — is that it made you want to seek out and acquire some of their recordings. That was the case for The Head and the Heart, who opened for Iron & Wine at a sold-out big room show at Slowdown last night.

The Head and the Heart at Slowdown, 6/5/11.

The Head and the Heart at Slowdown, 6/5/11.

I went in knowing next to nothing about the band and left wanting to hear more. At first blush, they seemed like your run-of-the-mill indie folk act complete with a neck-bearded frontman. But as their set rolled on, it was obvious that there was more to them. Big-hook melodies, gorgeous sing-along harmonies and dense instrumentation. Think of Okkervil River combined with Beach House and The Decemberists and you’re getting there. All the vocalists were good, but it’s the contrast of violinist/vocalist Charity Rose Thielen that added the real dimension. They closed with a song that ended with layered, multi-part harmonies. And the crowd went nuts. Where is it written that openers can’t do encores?

Looking all formal and Zack Galifianakis-like in his intimidating dark suit, Iron & Wine frontman Sam Beam took charge of a huge ensemble that included a small woodwind/brass section, turning the Slowdown into his own private lounge. The smoky opening number made me think of an indie-version of yacht rock, but Beam took it into more swampy territory for a set that pulled together old and new into something altogether different. With two women back-up singers, the harmonies at times reminded me of ’60s CSNY folk, while other songs found a groove that Beam and his band stretched out over for five or 10 minutes without getting boring. With his wry asides and clever smile, you can tell this guy doesn’t take it too seriously, and that relaxed nature made it all sound perfect. This could go down as a top-10 show for ’11.

* * *

According to One Percent, the Langhorne Slim show slated for tonight at TWR had been cancelled due to illnesses.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


  • One of the backup singers for Iron & Wine was Marketa Irglova from the Swell Season. Not bad to have an Oscar winner backing you up, eh?

    Comment by Amanda — June 6, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

  • THATH is really, really good. Check out the song Rivers and Roads, it highlights the aspect Charity brings (as you mentioned).

    Comment by Mike — June 6, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment