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Ryan Adams Concert Review

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Ryan Adams Concert Review

Old 10-21-02, 12:40 PM
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well my review of the Ryman show has FINALLY been posted. Here it is if you are interested:


Ryan Adams / Tegan and Sara (Nashville, TN; Ryman Auditorium)

Great show! Well, sort of. To be honest, I am extremely ambivalent about Ryanís performance at the Ryman. I donít want to get ahead of myself, so Iíll go back to the opening act, Tegan and Sara. These girls are sisters from Canada, and their instrumental sound is very basic. At the show they both played guitar while Sara was the main vocalists. She has an abrasive, scratchy voice, that is smoothed out in great part by her sisterís backup vocals. They were pretty humorous onstage, although they did commit the faux pas of admitting they used to like New Kids on the Block (popularly known as NkotB). Seriously, that was pretty cool of them, seeing as how most of us lie and say we were listening to "cool" bands like Bon Jovi and Guns Ďn Roses back then. The highlight of their performance was the song "City Girls", and the closer, "Donít Confess" comes in a close second. Overall, Tegan and Sara are a surprisingly pleasing duo, definitely worth lending your ears to.

After about twenty or thirty minutes of the Ramones combined with one classical number, Ryan Adams came out and opened with "Tomorrow". Ryan finally spoke to the crowd after two or three songs, and when he did he was full of witty (however cheesy they may have been) jokes. Sitting down at the piano to play a self-indulgent, soulful rendition of the Stonesí "Brown Sugar," Ryan quipped that he would now "continue with my suck." Most of the songs Adams performed before "the Esquires" (David Rawlings and Gillian Welch) joined him were beautiful. The minimalist approach of a simple acoustic guitar joined by the cello and bass of his guest instrumentalists suits his songs well and compliments the simplistic imagery of his songwriting style. "When the Stars go Blue" is exemplary of this beauty; all the instruments harmonized and rang out clearly, not one overpowering another. Ryanís voice drifted loftily above the delicate harmonies and brought to the forefront the dreamy, ethereal qualities of the song.

Eccentricities of the night include Ryan playing along on his guitar with a record of Madonnaís "Like a Virgin" and his shouting out (some of) the lyrics to a Minor Threat song in true Andy Kauffman style. Mixed in with the sleepy mood of the early half of the concert, these performances provided a good, amusing contrast. Before long, however, someone in the crowd yelled out the expected trite joke of probably every concert Ryan Adams has ever played: "Summer of 69!" Being true to his volatile personality, Adams behaved unpredictably to this offensive request; he sought out the man in the crowd and asked him to leave: "Grab that guy and make him leave! I wonít ****iní play till you do." Adamsí tirade was quite the infant temper tantrum. He took $30(about the price of the concert ticket) out of his wallet and gave it to the man, saying "Iíll tell you what you can spend it onĖan education!" Then he told him he could probably buy three of Bryan Adamsí records with the money, a cheap shot undeserved by Bryan. As the man was escorted out of the auditorium by Ryman staff, Adams hopped back on the stage and yelled, "Get the **** outta here, goodbye!", chiding him with a made-up-on-the-spot goodbye song.

For the remainder of the show, Adams turned back on his boyish charm, playing a lovely rendition of Hank Williamís "Lovesick Blues." Up until the encore, Adams played a variety of songs from Heartbreaker, Gold, and Demolition. Most of these were lovely and pristine, for Adamsí voice rang out true and clear during the finest moments. After playing "La Cienega Smiled", Adams said goodnight and ran offstage.

Adams shortly reappeared on the stage for an encore, during most of which he seemed oblivious to the audience. He was joined onstage by Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, and a drummer, and what followed was a self-indulgent, musical-masturbatory performance that made me feel as if the audience members were then expected to leave as Adams and company played a reunion-of-old-friends jamfest. Like a private joke that we werenít a part of, like a cool group we couldnít join, they positioned themselves toward the back of the stage, and Adams eventually retreated to the drums and allowed Rawlings and Welch to take over lead vocals. When Adams did sing on "What Sin", his annoying distorted vocals sounded remarkably like the equally annoying performance of the lead singer of The Strokes, Julian Casablancas, when he and his band performed "Last Night" on Saturday Night Live last fall. With Adams on drums, the group performed Bob Dylanís "Joey", a fifteen minute yawn catalyst that sent most of the audience through the exit doors. Finally, he concluded the show with "Come Pick Me Up," with Welch and Rawlings accompanying. It was a rather poor performance of what is an amazing song, probably because, as Adams readily admitted, they had never played it together before. Definitely a disappointing end to what promised from the start to be an intimate, stellar performance.

Overall, I retain my respect for Ryan Adamsí music. I think he is a wonderful songwriter; this is a statement that has been proven true time and time again. My biggest problem with this performance was neither his onstage antics nor his booting of the offending Bryan Adams fan. I would encourage an artist to let his personality shine through during performances. However, the fifteen minute performance of "Joey" was a bit infuriating; I mean, really, the song was too ****ing long when Bob Dylan did it. I would only ask that Adams remember that his fans paid $30 to see him perform his songs, not mediocre, at best, songs by other artists. Thus ends my personal constructive criticism bit for Adams. That said, I retain my contradictorily ambivalent stance on his overall performance that I stated earlier.

- Leah

Oh My Sweet Carolina
Sweet Lil Gal
To Be Young (Is to be High)
Fools We Are as Men
Brown Sugar
Like a Virgin (record with Adams on guitar)
Bartering Lines
Sylvia Plath
"cookie monster" version of Oh My Sweet Carolina
When the Stars Go Blue
Dear Chicago
goodbye song to offending Bryan Adams fan
Lovesick Blues
Rescue Blues
Minor Threat song (record with Adams shouting)
You Will Always Be the Same
La Cienega
Tell Me Why
What Sin
Rosalie Come and Go
Come Pick Me Up
Old 10-21-02, 04:17 PM
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Good review, Leah. I can see that Master's in English is finally starting to pay off.
I must say, though, I'm surprised that you know Bob Dylan stuff. I guess I still picture you as that "Metallica chick." 8-)
Old 10-21-02, 07:00 PM
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Originally posted by Tom Banjo
Good review, Leah. I can see that Master's in English is finally starting to pay off.
I must say, though, I'm surprised that you know Bob Dylan stuff. I guess I still picture you as that "Metallica chick." 8-)
Fear not. I can still air guitar my way through "Call of Ktulu." And thanks for the compliment, btw.
Old 10-21-02, 11:56 PM
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Originally posted by Penny Lane
Yeah, CM thought that maybe he planted the guy and told him to say that. Not that someone else wouldn't be dumb enough to say it if he didn't.
It sounds like a plant. I've now heard of a few more concerts where this happens.
Old 10-23-02, 12:56 PM
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I got to talk to him yesterday on "Live at the Lounge" with Ryan Seacrest. If it is broadcasted in your area, you can hear me and my goofy accent talking to Ryan Adams about Joyce Carol Oates and Hamlet.

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