|10/30/02||Ryan Adams||Oh My Sweet Carolina||Previous|
|Portland, OR||Sweet Lil' Gal (23rd/1st)|
|The Fools We Are As Men|
|To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)|
|My Winding Wheel|
|The Rescue Blues|
|When The Stars Go Blue|
|Improv Song "Pissing On A Cowboy"|
|<Cookie Monster "Oh My Sweet Chocolate Cookie">|
|<Happy Birthday to Ryan>|
|You Will Always Be The Same|
|Call Me On Your Way Back Home|
|La Cienega Just Smiled|
|Come Pick Me Up|
Adams show weird -- but in a good way
For all I know, Wednesday night at the Roseland was a normal Ryan Adams show: lots of banter with the capacity crowd; a half-pack of filter tips smoked onstage; an impromptu Tom Waits impression and two of Cookie Monster; 15 or so beautifully sad songs, many played with the help of a cellist and violinist; "Happy Birthday" sung by the audience to Adams and an end-of-tour giveaway.
For the record, he didn't kick anybody out of the show for requesting a Bryan Adams song, as he did in a widely reported incident earlier in October. Instead, he appeared to be in full tour's-end mode, mellow and wacky at the same time.
"For the last song of my U.S. tour I'm gonna do a cover of 'Brown Sugar' by the Rolling Stones," he told the crowd (although he played "Come Pick Me Up" after). "Hey, wait a minute. Who was the guy who asked for 'Folklore' earlier? C'mon, who's the mega-freakout fan?"
The lights went up and soon enough picked out a white-T-shirted gentleman in the right balcony who was yelling with both arms upraised that he was that fan.
"Because I'm flying to Berlin soon, do you want this chair? I've been using it all tour, and they won't let me take it on the airplane."
Fan though he was, the man demurred. Someone else yelled out, "How about R2-D2?"
Right, you remember. Movie star? Short, metallic, barrel-chested chap? Adams had a model of the droid onstage -- had riffed on it earlier in the evening. He grabbed it, walked to the edge of the stage and pitched it aloft, where it was caught by the guy next to mega-uber fan. This being Portland, however (or P-Town, as Adams said several times), he handed it over without a murmur and the show went on.
Luckily for those in front of the stage, Adams did not attempt to give away the grand piano.
Just as well, because he sat down at the piano and kept his promise about "Brown Sugar," playing a moodily contemplative version that crawled along at half-speed compared with the original. No surprise there: most of the night's songs, except for a rockin' "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)" trundled along to tempos of around 80 beats per minute. The surprise was how much Adams found in a song that should have been mere novelty but somehow was more.
It must be that voice, that gorgeous, pure, smoky-sweet voice -- by turns conversational and soaring. That voice is one of the things that makes Adams a modern Paul Simon -- with worse habits and a more wicked wit, for sure -- but, like Simon, a master of drawing-room despair, a chronicler of anomie and disaffection among the young moderns.
He used that voice to devastating effect on songs as diverse as "Sylvia Plath," "Oh My Sweet Carolina" (his opening song) and a "Lovesick Blues" that prominently featured the Adamsian yodel. Other songs included "Dear Chicago," "Rescue Blues," "La Cienaga Just Smiled," an especially gorgeous "When the Stars Go Blue," "You Will Always Be the Same," "My Winding Wheel" and -- as promised -- Cookie Monster singing "Oh My Chocolate Cookie" to the tune of "Oh My Sweet Carolina."
"This is the weirdest show I've ever played," Adams said at one point. "You guys are scarin' me -- but in a good way, I think. . . . " John Foyston: 503-221-8368; email@example.com
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