Calexico and Iron & Wine – Palace Theatre – Saint Paul MN – February 14th 2020

First Avenue The Current 89.3 and The Palace Theater present Calexico and Iron & Wine

Review and photo by Danny Sigelman

“Happy Valentine’s Day to YOU!” cried out Calexico lead vocalist, Joey Burns to a full house at the Palace Theatre Friday night. Love was in the air for Valentine’s Day and the beautiful music of Calexico and the Tuscon, Arizona band’s most recent collaboration with Sam Beam(AKA Iron & Wine) was on hand to serenade and cajole the romantic essence of a chilly evening.

Warming the hearts of all that were present, Beam and Burns played off one another all night as the collective on stage bounced about their collective body of songs. Performing most notably from their recent release together, Years to Burn which continued their initial partnership from 2005’s joint Years to Burn EP. Dipping into both individual artist’s catalogs, Beam remarked that the two forces chose which songs to choose from the other’s work to round out the very satisfying set.  

Diving into the driving “Glimpse” from Calexico’s ‘96 debut record, Beam’s acoustic guitar coupled brilliantly, helping to embellish their unique style of Americana. Brandishing the cinematic lushness with breathy and contemplative vocal harmonies of “Sixteen, Maybe Less” and the lilting “Prison on Route 41”, the music brings to life the cross cultural and geographic synergy the collaboration provides. Displaying a spirit of comradery, love and respect among band members, there were many turns to feature different members with keyboard, accordion and trumpet solos and even an extended upright bass solo during the gothic instrumental “Red Dust”.

Offering a variety of styles with a cover of Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horse” which fit in with Calexico’s Cumbia vibes of “Flores y Tamales” right up with the Iron & Wine’s signature tune, “Naked as We Came” and a reworked, more somber version of Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”. Teasing one another, Beam and Burns gave a bit of a Smothers Brothers touch to the proceedings, teasing and complementing each other’s contributions and personalities and love for working together.

Throughout the night the sweet, sweeping and subtle sounds washed over the audience, inciting sing-alongs and most couples in attendance to sway and canoodle to the romantic gestures the songs fulfill. It really was the perfect music to inspire the night with comforting sentiment and earnest energy everybody felt blessed to experience before heading back out into the cold night. 

Setlist: Father Mountain – He Lays in the Reins – Follow the Water – Glimpse – Sixteen, Maybe – Prison on Route 41 – Red Dust – Bring on the Dancing Horses – Flores y Tamales – Naked as We Came – On the Road Again – Fortune Teller – The Bitter Suite (Pájaro / Evil Eye / Tennessee Train) – I Lost It – Midnight Sun – In Your Own Time – A History of Lovers – What Heaven’s Left – Dead Man’s Will

Check out the entire set, courtesy of 89.3 The Current!