Sun Times Review
Adams at Schubas
September 25, 2000
By Mary Houlihan
As frontman for the band Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams gained a
reputation as the bad boy of alternative country. Sloppy and drunk one
moment, surrendering raw emotional songs the next, he left fans shaking
their heads and wondering what was up.
But the last few years have seen a monumental change in the
singer-songwriter. In a transforming solo-acoustic performance Friday
night at Schubas, he more than redeemed himself for all those nights of
In a perfectly modulated show, Adams stunned the sold-out
crowd into a trancelike silence. He mostly stayed away from the old
Whiskeytown songs, concentrating instead on the exquisite mix of tunes
found on the recent Bloodshot release "Heartbreaker." A prolific
songwriter, he also offered a handful of new songs, including one he
claimed to have written during the sound check earlier that evening.
Alone on the dimly lit stage and shrouded in a cloud of
cigarette smoke, he infused his always amazing vocal style with a
soulfulness that perfectly captured the heart-broken ache of his love
songs. These are songs full of poetry that rips at the emotions.
And while he may have turned over a new leaf, Adams has lost
none of his edge when it comes to songwriting. He writes with the spirit
of a young Gram Parsons ensconced in the gritty soul of an older Neil
Young. Now living in Nashville, he can count himself among the industry's
Adams admitted that he still gets nervous when performing
(something the alcohol used to numb), but to his credit he has finally
found a comfortable zone in which to work.
He bantered easily with the appreciative crowd and several
times offered something his fans have never heard before: a simple
"thanks for clapping."