|10/16/02||Ryan Adams||Set List:||Previous|
|Vic Theater||SYLVIA PLATH||Next|
|Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains)|
|Sweet Lil' Gal (23rd/1st)|
|To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)|
|The Fools We Are As Men|
|Oh My Sweet Carolina|
|<Ryan plays along to Madonna "Material Girl">|
|My Winding Wheel|
|The Rescue Blues|
|<Ryan plays Black Sabbath "Wheels Of Confusion">|
|I Want It That Way|
|When The Stars Go Blue|
|La Cienega Just Smiled|
|<Cookie Monster Improvs>|
|Come Pick Me Up|
Dangerous Balancing Act
Neumu's Brian Orloff writes: Ryan Adams displayed a rare moment of humility at the Vic Theatre during his second Chicago show, midway through a solo trek across North America in support of his latest album Demolition, a collection of unreleased songs issued between proper albums.
Inconspicuously emerging from the shadows with electric guitar in hand, Adams joined opening act Tegan and Sara on the band's two final numbers, deferring the attention to the group; he even stood to the side, clearly a guest onstage. Later, during his own set, Adams favorably acknowledged the duo, seeming earnest as he told the audience that their music was some of the most original he's ever heard.
This from a man who is fast gaining a rep as enfant terrible. This from a guy who tried to have a fan who requested a Bryan Adams song ("Summer of '69") at a recent Nashville show thrown out of the venue.
Adams may be dismissed by some as overrated, written off as a diva, even loathed for his feral behavior. But clearly we care about him; he's touched a collective nerve, perhaps more so for his tantrums and rock-star excesses than his passionate music. And if that is so, it's unfortunate.
Adams' solo tour revealed a tormented man — a musician with heady promise; that, after all, must have a certain currency. As a songwriter, Adams continues in the folk and country-rock traditions associated with such artists as Woody Guthrie, the early-to-mid-'60s Bob Dylan, and Gram Parsons. Adams is a sullen lothario. Unlike Guthrie and Dylan (well, until Dylan recorded Another Side of Bob Dylan, anyway), Adams is more prone to emotional observation than cultural revelation. Adams' protest song is the love song.
Like Parsons, Adams sings candidly about elusive love and heartache. And he presents himself, at least in a solo setting, as the authentic harmonica-wielding troubadour, more overtly sensitive than Dylan, but still hardened by experience. Adams resurrects the folk tradition of insouciantly sharing stories that illuminate truths, commonalities between people or, simply, smarting reflections on life. Posed as the storyteller, Adams performed as if he were sitting before a campfire, or huddled among friends.
On stage, making light of the unflinching nature of his songs, Adams joked: "By the end of the evening if you want to slit your wrists, the usher will bring you a razor blade."
While such humor occasionally surfaced during the largely morose performance, despair was more the order of the evening. The show's format — Adams alone with acoustic and electric guitar, harmonica and grand piano — placed emphasis squarely on the quality of the songs. A cellist and violinist joined him several times, as did a guitarist.
Material in the set leaned heavily on Adams' solo debut, Heartbreaker, a rootsy alt-country collection. Heartbreaker is probably his strongest record, the most honest. While last year's Gold — a slickly produced affair that found Adams embracing a pop-rock style — might be more accessible, Heartbreaker makes for a cathartic listen.
Adams' voice, a resonant croon, ached with resignation, especially on "My Sweet Carolina," in which his guitar bled into cello and violin, producing a lacy synthesis of strings. The song was just one instance of Adams' clear communication with the audience, most of whom sat still for the two-hour show, enraptured by the intimacy (though some, probably expecting a rock 'n' roll show, made their ennui known, shouting out song requests). Adams ignored most requests, even maturely shrugging off the seemingly requisite Bryan Adams catcall (thankfully). He delivered a crestfallen version of "The Fools We Are as Men"; "Dear Chicago" benefited from the violin and cello.
Adams' show pointed towards a return to the folksy milieu that fostered the start of his solo career after he left Whiskeytown, the band for which he was lead singer. Other show highlights included a lucid rendition of "When the Stars Go Blue," and an acoustic, lovely "Winding Wheel." Adams kept himself entertained by drinking throughout the set (he was self-admittedly drunk) and smoking nearly a dozen cigarettes. Smoke wafted from the stage and under the bare lighting that reflected off the wine glasses positioned around the stage (on the piano and an end table), and it appeared that Adams has succumbed to every folk-singer trope. His traipsing around stage and the show's loose pacing only solidified comparisons to artists of the past.
Adams would often disappear into the shadows between songs, but could be seen in the darkness thanks to his glowing, lighted cigarette. He always seemed in control, even if the audience was unsure what he would do next. There was a sense that he might derail the show at any moment, that he's a fragile artist, one who must be treated gingerly or he'll crack. When Adams first sat down at the piano he began rambling, sputtering incoherencies, maybe even laughing a bit to himself. But when he began to plunk out the first notes of a transformed reading of the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar," the hyperbole surrounding him made sense.
There were moments of levity, too, which helped lighten the dark mood cast by his confessional songs, punctuating despair with some reckless fun. Adams, a bit self-indulgent, performed a handful of frivolous covers, including versions of such hits as of The Strokes' "Last Nite," the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way," and Madonna's "Material Girl," perhaps as a comment on the current pop scene — but that might be over-thinking it.
Nevertheless, Adams' abilities far outweighed lulls in the set prompted by changing instruments or the telling of a dirty joke. It's redundant to say that Adams shows potential as a musician; he's already an established artist with a half-dozen solid albums (with Whiskeytown and solo) behind him. Brouhahas aside, Adams' elegiac performance illustrated a desire to connect with the past, but signaled a promising future. If, that is, he can maintain the humility, and low-key humor, that sustained his affecting Chicago performance, avoid letting his moment in the spotlight derail him, and keep the focus on his art. As such great artists as Dylan, Johnny Cash and Neil Young have demonstrated, one needs to balance bursts of creativity with the stamina to hang for the long haul. Time will tell if Adams really has what it takes.
|Fan Review by David Sadowski:|
Ryan really likes Chicago (I think he lived here briefly too) and is
always "up" for playing in this town. Last night was no
exception and we got another excellent two hour set on this short
"solo" (but not entirely solo) tour.
The Vic is an interesting choice of venue for a quiet, sit-down
concert... it's right next to the El, which rumbles past every few
minutes. Temporary seats were installed on the main floor... seating everyone took a while, resulting in a longer than usual break between acts and a later than stated start time for the show.
This is being billed as a tour to promote Demolition, but from the way Ryan's been acting, you'd think he was promoting Heartbreaker instead. While a couple of tunes from the new disc (Tomorrow, Dear Chicago) and Gold (Rescue Blues, La Cienga, etc.) did get played, the emphasis was very much on the Heartbreaker material.
Given the semi-solo format, this makes sense. Many tracks on Demolition need a band to put them across, certainly Nuclear, the single, does. When's the last time you've heard of an artist touring to promote a record, and not even bothering to play the single?
At any rate, Ryan is intent on reclaiming his crown as the "bummer
king," and is probably using this tour to help set up his next one,
where he'll be promoting Love is Hell, the already-completed "proper" followup to Gold. (Although for my money, Demolition is a helluva good record itself.)
The set followed last night's pretty closely, but with a few changes. For one, Sylvia Plath got moved up to go first. This song is, perhaps, the most introspective he did all evening (even more so than Sweet Lil Gal, where they had the disco ball on) and it makes sense to get that one in there at the start. The crowd was, for the most part, quiet and respectful, although as the evening wore on, people were shouting out requests.
Someone shouted out for the "banjo version" of Last Nite, one of the Strokes tunes that Ryan (it has been confirmed now) covered by himself on a 4-track just for his own jollies. There not being a banjo handy, Ryan played it in like country style on acoustic, and managed to make the tune sound barely recognizable as something by the Strokes. In sum, it was still a great tune and he made it his own. This may be the closest we've gotten yet to hearing what the rumored Strokes covers record actually sounds like.
La Cienega Just Smiled got played, I don't think it had the night before... Ryan also played a bit of I Want It That Way, as he has done at a few other shows in the last two years. The new tune about Beth Orton did not get played, however.
Tonight's Madonna singalong was Material Girl instead of Like a Virgin, and Ryan drafted a guy in the audience (from Detroit) to help him sing it. Snatches of other discs got played too... something from Vol. 4 by Black Sabbath, I recall, if he spun the Minor Threat record again I don't recall it.
Ryan played the first few songs without much in the way of banter, then explained that he'd just had the word Heartbreaker tattooed on his arm, along with a snake to make it seem less wimpy-singer-songwritery. His arm was sore and this did seem to affect his mood, at least early in the show. He appeared to brighten up as time went on.
He told a few more bad jokes from a $2 jokebook... later, came out
wearing a security guard's jacket and a hat made from a six-pack, then played a couple of Heartbreaker tunes Cookie Monster-style. That was pretty hilarious.
Once again, Ryan had nice things to say about Chicago and local bands like Wilco and the Mekons. I believe he said that the last two nights (Nashville and the first Chicago show) were the highlights of his tour thus far. He also said that the press had been "having a field day" going after him about the goofing around he's doing on this tour. He asked the audience if they liked it- they did- and he said, well, fuck the critics then.
He also said that he's scared being onstage by himself, it's a lot
easier to hide behind a band. Like last night, while he did play many tunes solo, he had help on some from guitar tech Chief on second guitar, and the violinist/cellist/singers from England who are backing him on this tour. Their help was especially useful on When the Stars Go Blue, which is probably the hardest one for Ryan to sing. It's at the top of his vocal range, where he's less sure of the notes. He did well with the tune, maybe even a bit better than he had last night.
Once again, the Canadian not-so-very-folkie duo of Tegan and Sara opened with about 40 minutes of catchy pop/rock. They were also (as last night) much louder than Ryan, who played with a bare minimum of volume both nights. I bought their second album (If It Was You), and I like it... sorta like a female version of The Strokes, and that ain't a bad thing.
Before Ryan went on, they played an aria from an opera over the PA... when he was done, we got the Ramones. No matter what instrument he's playing, Ryan rocks, check it out.
Again, like last night, 99% of the crowd stuck around until the end. However, the couple sitting next to me bolted about halfway through. The dude said he liked "a few" of the songs on Gold, the ones that rocked. He'd never heard the others. They were clearly in the wrong place, but I wasn't sad to see them go, as they'd been talking nonstop through every song. Like Dylan sez, if you gotta go, go now, or else ya got to stay the night...
|Commentary by CDNOW:|
Everyone knows that Ryan Adams loves the Strokes (who doesn't, right?),
the Backstreet Boys? Now, that's a new one!
At Ryan's show at the Vic Theatre in Chicago Wednesday (Oct. 16) night, he
not only performed an acoustic version of the Strokes' "Last Nite," but he
also laid into the beginning of the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way,"
smirking as the crowd laughed and sang along. Possibly confusing his boy
bands, he then called 'NSync's Justin Timberlake's new album, Justified,
"boring," and said that he "understands why Lance Bass wanted to go to the
moon. He probably heard an advance copy."
The scruffy rocker also paid homage to his feminine side with a version of
Madonna's "Material Girl." Earlier this week at a show in Nashville, Ryan
pulled a diva trip worthy of Madonna when a fan shouted out a request for
Bryan Adams' (Bryan Adams/Ryan Adams, ya know?) "Summer of '69" at the Ryman
He took out $30 from his pocket and refused to continue playing until the fan
was escorted out (the cash, of course, for reimbursement of the concert
ticket). The fan, however, was allowed to stay -– and kept the money. Ryan
has reportedly done this in a few other tour stops in Australia.
Ryan may have learned his lesson, though, as he ignored fans' further cries
of "Summer of '69" and for Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,"
as well as Gram Parsons' "Sin City."
Part of www.AnsweringBell.com