Ryan Adams

Ross Cunningham 01/12/2007

A Ryan Adams gig is somewhat like a woman: he never does exactly what you want him to and always unpredictable but at the end of the day you don't mind because that's what makes it interesting and appealing. Tonight at the Clyde Auditorium, Ryan and his Cardinals have came to put on a spectacular show for the last date of their European tour.

Adams is arguably one of the greatest songwriters of his generation and undoubtedly one of the most prolific - this can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to seeing him live. With such a large back catalogue to choose from, it's inevitable that some people will be disappointed if he decides not to play a specific tune. In truth, it really doesn't matter what he plays as all of his songs have the potential to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention.

He appears on stage at about half past eight and goes straight into a beautiful rendition of "Peaceful Valley" from Jacksonville City Nights which continued into an extended jam before sliding seamlessly into "Beautiful Sorta" from Cold Roses. Pausing to take the applause of the packed Auditorium he engages in a little banter with the crowd - however, as the shouts become more frequent he explains he's been having difficulty hearing lately and that he couldn't understand a word. Whether this was just an easy way to bypass being drawn into long conversations with the crowd or the truth, I'm not sure. It did, however, seem to work and any future shouts were shrugged off with a humorous "all I can hear is the sound of a caveman" followed by an "uga uga" type noise.

A sober Ryan Adams is definitely a different proposition from the drunken counterpart I witnessed at the Carling Academy in February 2006. Tonight it's all about cans of Red Bull and the music rather than cocktails and chatting to the crowd. The show continues with Adams moving to the piano and playing a breathtaking version of "The Rescue Blues" from Gold. The old Ryan Adams then appeared with a rendition of "Why Do They Leave" from his debut solo album Heartbreaker which definitely tugged on the heartstrings of the audience (or at least mine). Musically, the band are so tight and in sync that the jams and improvised endings of songs seem effortless (The View, take note). Other standout tracks of the night include "Goodnight Rose", with Ryan's voice soaring throughout the three-tiered auditorium, and "Dear Chicago" which took on a faster, heavier sound than the album version. The Cardinals used “Peaceful Valley" as a bookend of sorts as after they played "What Sin" they jammed back into a reprise of "Peaceful Valley" which worked nicely to round off the set.

On all other dates of the tour the band played for an hour then taken a break and played for another hour, but tonight they play straight through for around two hours before leaving the stage to be cheered back on for the encore. They appeared back onstage to play two songs, starting with "Magnolia Mountain" and finishing with an up tempo rock version of "Shakedown on 9th Street" which proved to be the perfect way to end an amazing gig. Its perhaps surprising that he didn't play anything from new EP Follow the Lights tonight, but that's the unpredictability of Ryan Adams - it just adds to his allure.

Ryan once joked that the inspiration for all his songs could be summed up by the phrase, "I dated this chick she fucked me up now please kill me". Thank god for all the women who keep on inspiring him to write songs like these.

Setlist, on at 8:30:

Peaceful Valley
Beautiful Sorta
Rescue Blues
Why Do They Leave
Stars Go Blue
Everybody Knows
Goodnight Rose
Rip Off
The Sun Also Sets
Dear Chicago
Please Do Not Let Me Go
Off Broadway
Cold Roses
Bartering Lines
A Kiss Before I Go
Freeway To The Canyon (Neal Casal)
The End
What Sin
Peaceful Valley

Encore at 10:20:

Magnolia Mountain
Shakedown on 9th St