26 February 2015

Ryan Adams - De Montfort Hall, Leicester (21 February 2015)

A photo posted by Pawl K (@heypawl) on

The reason why I reactivated this blog last summer was to give myself a place to practice writing and force myself to be disciplined enough to make myself write something on a semi-regular basis. So far this year I have been in a start-of-the-year fug and haven’t felt very inspired or motivated to do much writing, either here or for LeftLion. I didn’t want a month to go by where I hadn’t written anything on this blog, as I have managed at least one post a month since last June, therefore I thought I would pen a few words about the Ryan Adams gig that I went to last Saturday night. 

Being a long-time Ryan Adams fan and having caught him on every UK tour since 2006, in London or in Nottingham, I know what to expect when it comes to him as a performer. Sometimes he can be amazing and other times really frustrating. Tonight was the later. 

I don’t know if something happens when he plays in a band, but  I’ve seen him both solo and as part of a band (The Cardinals), and the truly outstanding performances have been those where it has just been him along on stage playing guitar and piano. When I’ve seen him with The Cardinals his music often felt bogged down and stodgy with no room to breathe. He was playing with a band at this show, so the signs weren’t good. 

A prolific singer-songwriter with so many released and un-released albums under his belt, I’ve always thought as Ryan Adams as a modern day Neil Young. Someone doing his own thing and releasing musically that veers wildly between extraordinary and downright awful, and with such an extensive back catalogue, when you go and see him play live there is no guarantee that he’ll play everything that you want. 

A photo posted by Pawl K (@heypawl) on

It was a gig of two halves. It started off really promising, opening with the reverb-saturated Tom Petty 80s rock of Gimmie Something Good, the show mined the more countrified-rock aspect of Ryan’s musical personality, with a rolling version of Let It Ride following. There was also room for a sumptuous Dirty Rain from Ashes & Fire, while the bar-band take on This House Is Not For Sale really lifted the Love Is Hell song. Wrecking Ball, from his new eponymously titled new LP, sounded like classic Ryan Adams. While the run of Magnolia Mountain, New York, New York, Dear Chicago and When The Stars Go Blue was unbeatable. The first half finished with a brand new and (so-far) unreleased song titled Blue Light that jangled like The Smiths attempting to cover Ryan’s beloved The Replacements. 

Next-up was a cover of the support act Natalie Prass. Although I’m sure it was well intended it was also the moment where the show lost momentum and took a nose-dive from which it never really recovered. After this it felt like the show meandered along and needed an injection of pace. There was some stand out moments with My Winding Wheel, Oh My Sweet Carolina, La Cienga Just Smiled. But these were interspersed with drudgery like a lengthy Peacefull Valley and the dreary Everybody Knows. 

I See Monsters is always something special, and in fact much of Love Is Hell often seem overlooked by Ryan Adams when I’ve seen him live. The song eventually descended in to a wall of guitars that must surely be a nod to Oasis, a band Ryan is a vocal fan of. There wasn’t any encore and Natalie Prass joined Ryan and the rest of the band onstage for the closing Come Pick Me Up. 

Gimme Something Good 
Let It Ride 
Stay With Me 
Dirty Rain 
This House Is Not For Sale 
My Wrecking Ball 
Magnolia Mountain 
New York, New York 
Dear Chicago 
When the Stars Go Blue 
Blue Light 
Your Fool (Natalie Prass cover)
Everybody Knows 
My Winding Wheel 
Peaceful Valley 
Oh My Sweet Carolina (with Natalie Prass)
La Cienega Just Smiled 
I See Monsters 
Come Pick Me Up (with Natalie Prass)

Ryan Adams website
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