The drugs must be working. Ryan Adams, notorious for snarky rambling stage chatter about Star Wars, video games and other random subjects, played a tight and focused set at the Beacon Theatre this past Wednesday. Missing also were the long Grateful Dead -esque jams. His band rocked harder than the Cardinals. They were pretty basic: one other guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard.
Adams started as an alt-country artist, originally with Whiskeytown, and later with his early solo albums. There was little of that influence tonight. There were a couple of solo acoustic songs, “English Girls Approximately” and “My Winding Wheel” but mostly it was rock’n’roll, impeccably played and sung. Even his biggest country hit, “When the Stars Go Blue” was reimagined with a low spooky synthesizer as the main instrument.
Ryan is an amazingly prolific songwriter, as shown by his recent releases of Prisoner and Prisoner B-Sides, almost thirty songs out in a few months. He played four songs from them, with the rest of the set spanning his career. I’ve never seen or heard him better, and the legendary Beacon sound system made every note and word crystal clear.
About half way through the set, Adams responded to a remark from the audience by saying, “I cant’ talk to you now, I’ll get in trouble”. He mostly stuck to that, putting the emphasis on the music. I’ve always felt a bit of a disconnect between his beautiful sensitive songs and his smart-ass stage persona. This was not the case at this show. Well done.
SETLIST: Ryan Adams @ Beacon Theatre 5/3/2017
Do You Still Love Me?
To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)
Gimme Something Good
English Girls Approximately
When the Stars Go Blue
Let It Ride
Are You Home?
My Winding Wheel
To Be Without You
Shakedown on 9th Street
New York, New York
Come Pick Me Up
he had something to prove and didn’t
“Elton in the house!”
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