Iron and Wine live at the Chicago Theater

by Greg Sheer

To kick off a fall tour in support of his fifth full-length album, Iron and Wine rolled through the Chicago Theater this past weekend after beginning the tour earlier in the week in Minneapolis. His new album, Ghost on Ghost, further explores the pop and R&B influences that have driven other recent releases.

Mirroring those explorations, the live band has expanded to a thirteen-piece pseudo-orchestra, featuring brass, strings, and backup vocalists. The arrangement and plush sound of the full band marks a far departure from the stark and mellow recordings that defined his early sound. Rather, they use the dynamic range of instrumentation to craft lively soundscapes that compliment well his swooning poetic vocals.

They played to a packed house, filling a venue that bears one detail making it startlingly appropriate to their music: assigned seating. Or, most importantly, seating. He’s always performed a show that is just as at home in a coffee shop as a standing-room-only venue. But with the current direction, now more than ever he and his band seem to be doing something more akin to theater than a rock show.