|02/04/02||Ryan Adams||To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)||Previous|
|The Astoria||Oh My Sweet Carolina||Next|
|London, England||The Fools We Are As Men *|
|World War 24 *|
|You Will Always Be The Same *|
|Holy Is The Light * ^|
|Review from www.dotmusic.com (click to see full story and pictures):|
Gig played on: Mon 4 Feb 2002
RYAN ADAMS - ASTORIA, LONDON
Who is this great white hope of rock n'roll on whom we've digested so many column inches? Apparently that's him, the shabby tramp figure that staggers on in a charity shop suit and proudly vulgar tie. You wonder if this is the wrong gig or you've simply gatecrashed the soundcheck as the stage is still lit and he's taping lyrics to the floor apologizing for the delay. By the end of the evening this behaviour looks frankly normal.
Adams is an arch troubadour, alt-country ambassador and genuine top bloke who's been unlucky in love. He's certainly been dragged through the preverbal mill so much that he's made some of the most heart-wrenching music heard in years. Let's just say his suffering hasn't been in vain.
Ryan Adams is the type of eccentric workaholic that makes Beck look listless. Don't forget he's also had romantic liaisons with psychobabble oddball Alanis Morissette and Winona Ryder - officially the most bonkers actress in Hollywood.
Tonight's gig is a solo acoustic show and Adams is quick to humorously apologise (again) as he hasn't "been out on his own" in a long time and he's nervous. Aside from the grand piano, the stage is populated by a violinist and cellist that accompany him despite that fact he's only known them for two days and has never played with a string accompaniment before. He informs us they've already written four or five songs together since meeting.
Despite the aforementioned hype and expectant faces, Adams is in no hurry. He's unfazed, cracking bad jokes and reciting off-the-wall anecdotes that go nowhere all while smoking at an alarming rate. Apart from a faction in the crowd that insists on chatting throughout, no one really seems to mind. On a bill where he's sandwiched between such mediocrity - Travis and Starsailor have also turned out for this Warchild benefit show - his unstructured insanity is light relief.
And the music? Without electric guitar and backing band, there's no sign of his 'hit' 'New York, New York' nor any of the fine rockier moments. Instead there's an array of songs that practically personify heartache, explain instability and soundtrack loneliness. The bare bones acoustic magnificence of 'Answering Bell', 'Oh My Sweet Carolina' and new track 'World War 24' make a mockery of critical assertions that he's nothing more than a copycat rehashing the past. He's got the voice of a grievous angel singing the blues and the raw emotion that confirms authenticity.
How do you sum up such a random experience? True, the performance is a shambles in places but captivating throughout. Dylan and Parsons would be proud.
Photos: Steve GillettChris Heath
Part of www.AnsweringBell.com