ADAMS - REGENT THEATRE - 3 MARCH 2012
think that one man with two guitars, a collection of harmonicas and a
piano, could keep a full house theatre quiet and spellbound for two hours,
but on Saturday night Ryan Adams did just that.
It was a quite wonderful concert, beautiful and amazing and damn near
perfect as concerts go.
Photos were not permitted, so I have had to use the promo photo to illustrate
the start of Ryan's set, a voice with a strong Scottish accent, rather
amusingly, threatened hellfire and damnation to any who even thought to
record, photograph or in anyway disrupt the show with annoying devices.
And thus it was that the capacity audience at the beautiful Regent Theatre
was prepared for a night of superlative music. And it was delivered in
first I must mention the opening set of Jason Isbell.
I have had the good fortune to see him perform previously when he
opened for Justin Townes Earle several years ago, so I knew we in
for a quality sweetener.
He opened with Tour of Duty, a powerful song about a soldier
returning from a final tour of duty, and his vain hopes for the
normalcy of civilian life, then followed that with Going It Alone
before harking back to his days with the Drive By Truckers and singing
his version of one of their hits Danko/Manuel. Goddamn
Lonely Love was the standout on his set list, as was his cover
of Richard Thompson's Keep Your Distance.
about his father, Outfit, was later the basis for a joke in one
of Ryan Adams lighter moments. Jason however, is a dynamic performer himself
and a scintillating songwriter, so his set, of eight songs in all, was
much appreciated by the early arrivals. The rest didn't know what they
Jason's set kicked off at 8.00 pm and lasted approximately 30 minutes,
after which there was a short break, so the audience could go off and
grab a drink at the bar etc. Alcohol was forbidden in the auditorium.
It was about 9.00 pm when Ryan Adams stepped onto the stage to a rousing
welcome. The first song of a total of twenty six was the beautiful Oh
My Sweet Carolina, a perfect opener to set the mood for the rest of
the show. This was followed by Ashes & Fire, the title track
of his latest album, which has been widely acclaimed as a return to form
by the mercurial songwriter.
Much to my delight If I am A Stranger was next. In fact the entire
set list was a wonderful selection of favourite songs. Highlights for
me were Rescue Blues - an awesome version - as some member of the
audience called out to which Ryan quipped "Thanks Dad", Sylvia
Plath, a song I love for it's amazing lyrics, Firecracker, The
Hardest Part and the perennial favourite Come Pick Me Up, but
truth to tell it was hard to single out any particular song, they were
I really loved Ryan's tribute to his pussycat, an amusing and perfectly
executed ditty called Mr Cat. It had the audience in stitches.
Ryan Adams was very funny when he wasn't being serious, and he does
take his music very seriously indeed, even if he deprecates it half
What was remarkable about seeing Ryan Adams perform solo, was that
he can carry a show by himself with ease and grace. The fact that
he is a supremely gifted songwriter, singer and musician is made
patent in this context. With
just Ryan, his guitar and beautiful expressive voice, the songs
glow with new meaning and you are entranced by his artistic genius.
More on the
voice - Ryan Adams voice has to be one of the best voices in contemporary
music. He can sing anything and give the songs he sings depth and meaning.
His voice cuts you to the heart, seduces you with its sincerity, and astounds
you with its amazing range. He can go from a whisper to the sweetest croon,
to a passionate howl in space of one song, The Hardest Part for
Alternating between sitting and standing and shifting from guitar to piano,
it was a concert full of variety as the song list suggests.
At the end of the main show, which finished with Come Pick Me Up,
the audience rose as one to accord the man a standing ovation. This happens
very rarely in the shows I have been to, but Ryan certainly deserved all
the love and reverence accorded him last night.
They rose again after the three song encore as Ryan took a bow for the
It was one of the best shows I have ever had the good fortune to witness,
up there or even surpassing Leonard Cohen and Lyle Lovett and all the
other great artists I've seen live.
This was the sixth time I have seen Ryan Adams in concert, but the first
time I have witnessed him performing a solo show. Much as I loved his
concerts with the Cardinals, Ryan in troubadour mode really impressed
me more deeply than I could have imagined.
Jason Isbell set:
Tour Of Duty
Go It Alone
Goddamn Lonely Love
Keep Your Distance [Richard Thompson]
Ryan Adams Set:
Oh My Sweet Carolina
Ashes and Fire
If I Am A Stranger
My Winding Wheel
The Rescue Blues
Please Do Not Let Me Go
Do I Wait
Let It Ride
English Girls Approximately
Chains of Love
The Hardest Part
New York, New York
[improv: "My car is broke and what I'm wearing is an outfit"
- apropos Jason Isbell's song Outfit - very funny]
Come Pick Me Up
Holy Diver (Dio cover)
When Will You Come Back Home
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