Ryan Adams is an artist, which means his art gets critiqued like an artist. You may love some of his work and may dislike some, but regardless of your tastes in art, I think you will find something of Ryan Adams’ works to like, or at least appreciate. In that vein, I see Ryan Adams like David Bowie (not saying he has reached such heights, although there are those that would) in that he has put out a lot of work, some of which you could do without, others we love, but each piece provides a narrative nonetheless.
Mr. Adams’ music doesn’t fit perfectly into a genre either. He’s most often called a singer-songwriter, or maybe alt-country, but when you see a show like the one at the Eccles Theater on Sunday night, you probably walked away thinking he is pure rock, which is probably where he wants to be. Even the music playing before the show, and that which he discussed during the show, alluded to his tastes, a fan of rock, heavy-metal.
For those attended the show looking for some rock-and-roll, then you certainly got it. For those wanting the singer-songwriter, you got some. As one of my friends described it, “…it was so plugged in this time around.” For me, I was pleased. I especially liked “Peaceful Valley,” a spacey and jammy number, with Mr. Adams going somewhere else on the guitar and Daniel Clarke filling the theater with his key work. If only Eccles would have let them have their smoke machines! Other highlights, from this appreciator of art, included “Dirty Rain,” “When the Stars Go Blue,” and “Dear John.” And of course, his acoustic cover of “Wonderwall” is always great.
Mr. Adams played a good set, 19 songs (if you include his little live Instagram improvisation), although fans were still a little let down at the lack of an encore. I was pleased.
The opener, who I can honestly say was the reason I went, was Karen Elson. Much of the audience wasn’t familiar with her, but her voice and lyricism is moving and had people inquiring. If you want to give her music a listen I would start with her debut album, The Ghost Who Walks, which was produced by Jack White, her former husband. The only complaint I had for Ms. Elson was that she left the stage far too early, presumable so Mr. Adams could get in his set.
Ryan Adams Setlist:
Let It Ride
To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)
Gimme Something Good
Improv – “On Instagram”
Shakedown on 9th Street
Do You Still Love Me?
Anything I Say to You Now
When the Stars Go Blue
My Wrecking Ball
Wonderwall (Oasis cover)