Photos by Ty Hyten
The Scene: An extremely long line of fans trailed down the road behind the scenic Red Rocks Amphitheatre last Thursday night for a first-rate show that nearly didn’t come to fruition after a severed power line cut the electricity to the historic venue. Though the show was pushed back an hour, fans were in high spirits and the show that followed was more than worth the wait.
Opener: Houndmouth. With the little daylight that was left, Indiana’s Houndmouth opened the night with a set of killer set of pop folk-rock, heavy on rock. Their harmonies were on par with those of the headliner and the Bluesy guitar licks from front man Matt Myers cut off casual conversation and drew satisfied nods from mingling fans.
Opener: Iron & Wine. Three years after The Head And The Heart opened for Iron & Wine at Boulder Theater, Sam Beam had returned as the opener. Iron & Wine can come in many shapes on the road, sometimes a funky multi-piece band, other times just an upright bass, keys and Sam on guitar, or occasionally just Sam solo. The full house at Red Rocks was lucky enough to get a gorgeous solo performance on Thursday.
It takes an act of Sam Beam’s caliber and a deep well of amazing songs to hold the attention of nearly 10,000 people with just an acoustic guitar. The Austin, TX based Folk star was in high spirits as he joked with the audience and briefly paused mid-song at times for a good chuckle. Even he seemed surprised by how uproarious the audience was at times.
Beam played many of his most well known songs and opened with his cover of “Such Great Heights” played with a completely different cadence than on the Garden State soundtrack that was likely his first introduction to many of members of the audience. The stunning nine-minute, eight verse and chorus-less “The Trapeze Swinger” was one of the high points of the entire evening, with his imagery and biblical references at home in the presence of towering, illuminated red cliffs. The set ended with a transcendent “Flightless Bird, American Mouth.” Sam Beam sang the first two verses a capella, then his gentle falsetto was joined by guitar completing an opening set worthy of a live album.
The Head And The Heart: Seattle’s The Head And The Heart always puts on a high energy, three-part, harmony laden, feel good show. That’s what has taken them from playing Moe’s BBQ in Englewood in 2011 to the historic stage at Red Rocks as the headlining act just three years later.
The crowd erupted with the opening piano on “Cats and Dogs -> Coeur d’Alene,” in what seems to be a tried and true opener many of the ten plus times I’ve seen the band. The nineteen song set covered much of both of their albums with every song feeling remarkably like a hit. Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar) ran into the crowd in a Matt Berninger-esque moment during “Ghosts,” embracing fans, microphone cable trailing behind. Fans engaged as well and sang at the top of their lungs on “Lost in My Mind,” “Sounds Like Hallelujah,” and “Rivers and Roads.”
While songs from their self-titled album that stood out in terms of crowd energy, songs from last year’s Let’s Be Still left some of the more lasting memories and intimate moments. The slow and meandering “Cruel” was beautiful, if not my favorite song of the night. Breaks when Charity Rose Thielen’s beautiful and affected vocal stood alone drew appropriate cheers from the audience on tracks like, “Let’s Be Still” and “Winter Song.”
The night came to close with Josiah Johnson bringing out girlfriend Carleigh Aikins (Bahamas, Royal Wood) to play one of his unreleased songs called “The Basement.” The kindred musical spirits shared a microphone and a delicate moment before the rest of the band returned for “Springtime” into “Summertime” and ended with a big “Down in the Valley.”
We all poured out in high spirits under a clear, starry Colorado evening. With a little help from the utility company and weather gods, The Head And The Heart left a lasting impression in what was likely their first of many appearances at Red Rocks.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: A