As soon as I heard the first few lines of ” Oh My Sweet Carolina” on Saturday night I knew I was in for a treat. I’ve been listening to Ryan Adams for a while now and I saw him at Red Rocks in 2007, so I thought I had a pretty good idea about what to expect….. but this was a totally different version of Ryan Adams. This version of Ryan was, dare I say, happy and seriously funny. While the rocking performance with The Cardinals was great, I much prefer subdued, sober, acoustic Ryan Adams.
I’ll talk about Ryan in a minute, but first, I need to tell you guys about Butch Walker. I was a little bummed when he walked on stage because I was under the impression that I wasn’t going to have to sit through an opening act. All it took was about 10 seconds for him to prove me wrong. Butch Walker has one of the best voices I’ve heard in a long time and he managed to make the Buell feel tiny with his huge voice. I look forward to seeing him at a smaller venue when he comes to town next.
Here is a taste of what Butch Walker brought to the table:
Now that we have that out of the way, here are a few Ryan-centric highlights from the evening….
*The fact that the show was acoustic provided the opportunity for very interesting versions of old favorites. Ryan managed to inject the same power and life of the full studio versions into the stripped down performance so much that I didn’t miss the band at all. I especially loved particularly slower versions of two old favorites- New York, New York and Firecracker.
*Although the Buell Theatre is pretty large, it felt extremely small and intimate. I believe this is mainly due to the “rules” set in place at the venue-the prohibition of photography (although some people did still take flash photos), the limit of alcohol to the lobby only, and a strong urge against using cellphones (I didn’t see a single person on their phone). Without these distractions we were all able to enjoy the moments for what they were. And they were so great.
*Ryan Adams is hilarious, which is something that was not extremely evident when I saw him last time. He started out the evening joking- “Are y’all ready to get sad together?” He navigated the awkward silences and heckling with amazing sarcasm and finesse. In past years Ryan would’ve flipped if someone yelled “play the good one”, but this time he just laughed and coined a hilarious song about the man on the spot.
Overall, I have to admit that I think taking three years off was exactly what Ryan needed. I hated on Mandy Moore as much as the rest for “taking” him away when he simultaneously married her and quit music…. but it is evident that taking some time off to refocus, sober up, and enjoy his wife and pets was great for him. And musically, he is better than ever.
Here is a recent performance at a radio station to give you a taste of what the show was like:
If you have never listened to Ryan Adams, I can’t recommend enough that you do so. right now.