I scooted to the edge of my seat in the upper circle, craning my neck to see Ryan Adams walk on stage, wearing a wide smile and an Emperor back patch on his denim jacket. He took a look around the stage at the musicians behind him: Ethan Johns on guitar, Cindy Cashdollar on the double eight, Don Was on bass, Jeremy Stacey on drums, and Benmont Tench on keyboards. After a rolling, swooping version of “Dirty Rain” that made me feel a part of one of Adams’ afternoon Pax-Am sessions, I repurposed my pen to a drum stick, tapping the seat in front of me and stomping my feet to every song reverberating off the “mushroom caps” (Adams’ term) hanging from the red-lit ceiling of Royal Albert Hall.
Tonight, Ryan Adams showed me what it’s like to feel the intersection between great songwriting and perfect execution, running through songs from Heartbreaker to Ashes and Fire with the ease of a country great rocking a packed Town Hall Party. He cracked jokes about Captain Crunch and led the band into a three minute improvisational jam about a loaf of bread with a half-baked, back-porch disposition palming the sold out crowd with every song and bit of banter.
About forty five minutes into the set, the band left the stage and Adams walked to a separate mic at the front, his Buck Owens Harmony in-hand. He stood in front of bright blue Christmas lights that looked straight out of a high-rising Coruscant walkway and played “Oh My Sweet Carolina” and “English Girls Approximately” before calling everyone back up to the stage for two songs and an encore, a slight setlist cut in-order.
Adams looked around the stage and laughed, “something’s in the air tonight,” he said, before ending the show with “Come Pick Me Up.” The level of songwriting and musicianship I witnessed truly made me feel a part of something–a ‘something’ I doubt I’ll ever experience again quite like tonight.
Ashes and Fire
Where We Met In My Mind*
Loaf of Bread
Please Don’t Let Me Go
Why Do They Leave?
Let It Ride
In The Shadows Again*
Oh My Sweet Carolina
English Girls Approximately
Do I Wait
I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say
Come Pick Me Up
* tentatively titled debut songs
Originally posted on Solid Stated