Andrew Bird and Sam Beam (aka Iron & Wine) seem like guys who should’ve known each other going back to at least the mid 2000s — an era when each became a distinctive presence on the indie folk landscape. Each is a writer and performer of particular acumen — acoustic-based songs driven by incisive lyricism and deceptively simple melodic structures. Each is in their late 40s. Each a visual curiosity — Beam set apart by his impressively rendered beard, while Bird’s pencil-thin frame is often clad in uniquely natty attire. And each now sports a hearty discography — Bird recently released his 14th solo studio album, Inside Problems, while Beam’s most recent effort, 2019’s Years to Burn, is a collaboration with the like-minded dudes in Calexico.
Yet Bird and Beam didn’t meet until a few years ago. They hit it off so well, they wanted to tour together. But then the pandemic hit.
“It will have been more than two years of being grounded when we finally embark on the ‘Outside Problems’ summer tour,” Bird said in a statement when their collaborative effort was finally announced last December. “I only wish it could happen sooner. I’m not sure why it took so long for me to meet Sam Beam. His music I have known and admired for many years now. What a lovely guy. The kind of guy that would help you move.”
If the tour’s recent stop at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado is any indication, expect a full set from each guy, punctuated by a collaborative section during which Beam joins Bird’s band for a series of songs that is likely to include at least one cover (Bill Withers’ “Just the Two of Us” was the choice at Red Rocks).
As Beam described the situation recently via his Twitter account: “Special set of Iron & Wine and Andrew Bird performing together each night — stay for full show to be surprised when it happens.”
Andrew Bird and Iron & Wine play PNC Pavilion at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Meshelle Ndegeocello will open the show. There are no COVID-19 protocols in place for the event. Info: riverbend.org.