The sold out Ryan Adams show at Higher Ground finally happened. Deep down I felt like it might go the way of his show in Oklahoma and get canceled at the last minute but it came off and i was there. Let me start by saying that i somehow got sick in Oklahoma and was running a fever the day of the show, in fact, i was in such bad shape that my wife drove me up to Burlington, dropped me off, hung around town with Dylan and then picked me up after the show. I know, she's an amazing lady.
No Ryan Adams show is ever uninteresting and this one was no exception. With no opener the stage was already set up for the band with a simple line of chairs with the piano on one end and pedal steel on the other. When they came out Ryan and the rest of the cardinals were simply dressed. The lights were a little strange, the band was lit from above with low reds, blues and purples. You can see more in the pictures then we actually could in the venue. The lights were so low that it was impossible to make out expressions on the bands faces and i was pretty close to the stage. The scene was set for a chilled out set.
The show was great, it was the lowest keyed show i've ever seen him do with Let it Ride being the most uptempo song he played, they had even reworked Halloweenhead, the rockingist song on the new album, to fit into the tone of the set. Ryan Adams opened with Please do not let me go followed by Dear John. The band played through several songs before Ryan ever addressed the crowd. When he did speak most of what he said was low and mumbly but he did clearly introduce each of the cardinals and said something funny about each one. After the song two Ryan declared that they would have to play it again because his shirt tail had come untucked and that was unprofessional. He then proclaimed that the crazy bug had bit him on the ass during the song and then blamed it on the two diet cokes he'd drank so far. Goodnight Hollywood blvd from Gold was the oldest song in the set. The majority of the set was from the new disc Easy Tiger and Ryan had to refer to the lyric sheets in front of him a few times during the show. The band ended up playing about an hour and forty five minutes with a one song encore.
Let me stop here and say that this is the first time i've seen Ryan Adams sober. He drank diet coke and didn't even smoke while on stage. He made a few jokes about how his name was synonymous with professionalism which sounded like a plea to us to reconsider how we think of him. His voice sounded great, probably the best i've heard him.
Some musical highlights:
Please do not let me go. The opener, the crowd was amazingly quiet during the first two songs. It was evident from the first note that his voice was in rare form.
Dear John. Somehow all the high notes were hit, lovely.
Let it Ride. I love this song regardless but it really got the set moving for a few minutes and sounded great.
Two. A great song from the new album sounded heartachingly exquisite.
I see Monsters. Spot on, it gave me goosebumps.
Down In a Hole. An Alice in Chains cover that they've been doing lately. It was the encore of the show and sounded good.
The rest of the songs i remember:
Oh My God, Whatever, etc.
I taught myself how to grow old
Goodnight Hollywood Blvd
The sun also sets
These are the only pictures and videos i was able to get. Higher Ground usually allows pictures but after being lit up by a flashlight and talked to by three members of security in the space of a minute I didn't take any more. The last guard explained that "Mr. Adams requested that there be no photography". The sound on the video is bad but it gives you an idea of what we could see.
Did you notice the limited edition poster at the top of the post? I admit i'm a concert tee junkie so i bought a cool one with the date on it but they also had a nice belt buckle and a great looking watch with the rose logo on it.