Show Review: Ryan Adams @ ACL Live (10.23)


Thursday night was Ryan Adams’ second night at the Moody Theater; the previous evening he taped an ACL TV program, but this time it was purely all about the jams. A testament to this was the two-hour, and-then-some long set that Adams’ and his band gave to the very enthusiastic crowd. Comedian Dave Hall opened the night with his funny act. Read on to find out more about the evening.

Opening with comedy was a different and odd phenomenon. Instead of some band that most of the audience would probably be unfamiliar with and not pay attention to, Dave Hall got on stage to tell some jokes. For half of his time on stage, he had the audience mostly into it—from my vantage point on the mezzanine level, I was surprised to see darkness and not the glow of faces illuminated by cell phones. While not all of his jokes were terribly funny, it seemed like each one got a little bit of a response from the audience. Things were going fine for Dave until he decided he would pick up his guitar and tell us some of his “erotic stories” to some mood music made from looping electric guitar. Here the night shifted from funny to simply boring and the crowd lost interest and started talking over Hall.

There are two different sides to Ryan Adams. One that is jamming out, hair flopping wildly all around him as he moves with his guitar, his right foot trailing behind him as he stomps along to the beat and throws his head in front of the microphone to yell out the words. Then there is soft Ryan Adams, standing fairly still behind the mic that’s lit with Christmas lights with his acoustic guitar, the only thing illuminated in the room as he spins tales with delicate themes and makes the audience swoon with his slightly raspy yelp that turns into a quiet falsetto. He switched between these two sides throughout his long set, letting his band leave for numbers when he moved over to the mic on the side of the stage. Personally, this was when I connected most to the music that was played—the intimate nature of just a man and his guitar seems to be where Adams shines the most.

While these are two of the facades that Adams takes as an artist, there’s another that emerged last night. In between songs Adams took it upon himself to call out a whole lot of bullshit. Topics that were high on the list were Country music, those people at shows that yell out comments of enthusiasm in between songs, and those people that yell out song requests. Adams shat on modern country music first with a string of expletives laced together in what he confessed was “word vomit,” and this was greatly received by the audience. He proceeded to move on to the crowd of his own fans next, the first target was some dude that yelled out “Come on, Ryan” in between songs, and Adams launched into a mockery of who he perceived the gentleman to be—a guy straight from the gym all hulked out and hyped up. As the night went on, it seemed like we got a little bit deeper into the commentaries in between songs until it was between every number. To me, this ultimately got a little tired and detracting from the show atmosphere. Yea it felt good at first to call out that trope of a guy at a show who yells out for attention, but after the repetition of the joke so many times, it felt like Adams was laughing alone.

He closed with “Pick Me Up,” though, so I guess the night was alright.

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