South Carolina and Ireland are literally an ocean apart, but Sam Beam (better known under his performing name Iron & Wine) and Glen Hansard of Once fame are closer than ever in their musical stylings. Friday night, a few select Angelenos were treated to a rare acoustic performance, complete with the pair taking requests from the audience, at the Sayers Club in Hollywood.
Hosted by public radio station KCRW, the night featured solo sets by both artists and a couple of covers that they played together at the end of the show. The two moody songsters share a manager and clearly have become quite close through that relationship, as they were joking with each other and the audience throughout the night.
South Carolina native Sam Beam opened the show with a new song and then, admitting he hadn’t prepared for the show, began taking audience requests, starting with the ballad “Jesus the Mexican Boy” off his 2005 five-song EP The Sea and the Rhythm. Beam was a little taken aback by the dig-deep request – “You guys have the back catalogue,” he joked, but obliged. He may have forgotten a lyric or two, but it only added to the evening’s charm.
Beam’s new album, Ghost on Ghost, will release April 15. He continued through a 45-minute set with “Grace for Saints and Ramblers,” also off the upcoming new album, and “Tree by the River” from 2011’s Kiss Each Other Clean.
Hansard came to the show a little more prepped to debut new songs (and share some old ones) with the crowd. Being an Oscar winner for Once has far from jaded the Irishman, who even without musical partner Marketa Irglova, created a sound that was both folk-y and soft, and at the same time reached back to his roots with indie band The Frames, playing louder than Beam and rocking out a bit during the set.
Hansard opened with a new song, “Mercy,” which has a soulful, spiritual undertone, before playing “Maybe Not Tonight” off 2012’s Rhythm and Repose and “This Gift,” which was featured in the recent Disney movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green. The Big Bang Theory actor Kunal Nayyar was in the audience and Hansard dedicated “Say it to Me Now” to the actor’s wife after Nayyar requested the song, which was featured in Once.
The pair united on stage for two covers, “Debris” by The Faces and the Willie Nelson classic “Blue Eyes.” Both performers reached into their most melodic falsettos for these numbers and the harmonies worked beautifully together. There was fortunately just enough time for them each to do one last solo number, Beam choosing “Boy With a Coin” and Hansard his most well-known number from Once, “Falling Slowly.” Hansard acknowledged the song was a duet and asked the audience to join in, noting: “I don’t have Marketa or Eddie Vedder with me, so you have to help me out.”
Hansard was out of time but still snuck in a rousing rendition of an old Irish melody — “The Auld Triangle” — at the end of the night.