Gig Reviews

Ryan Adams – The Olympia – 05-03-15 – Concert Review

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Ryan Adams – The Olympia – 05-03-15 – Concert Review by Killian Laher

Where to start with the weird and wonderful Ryan Adams? Adams has been entertaining and infuriating in equal measures for nearly 20 years in the music business, which makes him now 40 years of age. Time to grow up? By the evidence of the stage at the Olympia, festooned with arcade game machines, not yet. The audience were warmed up by support act Natalie Prass and her band, who played a set of what you might call ‘country soul’. It Is You was borderline Disney, with Prass’ high-pitched vocals stopping barely an octave short of Minnie Riperton. Joined by Adams on guitar for a couple of songs, their set was well received.

The main act emerged, complete with punk t-shirt and dragged through a hedge backwards hairstyle. Adams plus band powered through selections from last year’s self-titled album but also choice cuts from his back catalogue. What he doesn’t always get credit for is his musicianship, he has become a seriously good guitar player. Whether it was Johnny Marr-style jangly guitar on This House Is Not For Sale, or rocking out on Magnolia Mountain, he seriously impressed, and his band provided a quality backing. They had many swooning for a dreamy rendition of Dear Chicago, coming across like Bruce Springsteen at his most understated. Newer songs Kim and Trouble fared well alongside old favourites like La Cienega Just Smiled and a hushed version of New York, New York.

Some of it was self-indulgent, Adams responded to a somewhat rowdy crowd with rambling stories about rats and snakes, and a long-drawn out rocky jam on Peaceful Valley fell flat. On the other hand he responded to requests for Whiskeytown songs by improvising a song which he titled Rescue Clown (!). For many in Ireland, Heartbreaker was their first Adams love, and he obliged with a solo acoustic My Winding Wheel, later joined by Natalie Prass to duet on Oh My Sweet Carolina. The penultimate song of the night was I See Monsters, which evolved from sensitive minor ballad to powerhouse rock anthem. It shouldn’t have worked but contrarily, like Adams himself, it did and was one of the night’s highlights. After the crowd-pleasing Come Pick Me Up, the band finished with an onstage sword fight. Yep, that’s not a typo.

At times all over the place, and others, brilliant, often within the same song, and never predictable. The clown prince of music? Quite possibly, but one of the creatively vital performers making music.
Here is Killian talking to Tom Dunne on Newstalk about the gig.

Set List –

Gimme Something Good
Let It Ride  – (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals cover)
Stay With Me
Dirty Rain
This House Is Not For Sale
Dear Chicago
Everybody Knows
My Winding Wheel
Magnolia Mountain  – (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals cover)
New York, New York
Kim
My Wrecking Ball
I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say
Peaceful Valley  (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals cover)
Your Fool  – (Natalie Prass cover)
Oh My Sweet Carolina  – (with Natalie Prass)
Rescue Clown
(improv)
La Cienega Just Smiled
Trouble
I See Monsters
Come Pick Me Up  – (with Natalie Prass)

2 replies »

  1. I’d agree with you on most things in the review but not on the self indulgence on Peaceful Valley. It’s one of my least favourite Ryan Adams’ but it made total sense in that very extended Deadhead form live. I thought Dear Chicago (aided by the wonderful lighting) had more of a Boys of Summer vibe (in a good way that only RA could) and you forgot to mention the near total silence when he played the lump in my throat beautiful take of Dirty Rain. I didn’t think he was “all over the place” at all, the guy knows what he’s doing. I think we’re seeing Ryan at the peak of his powers and if we had been able to get a babysitter, my wife and myself would have been back for Friday’s gig.

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