Don't Ask For The Water
Come Pick Me Up (all performed with Ryan Adams)
Review by Paul Cole
Twenty minutes before the gig began, the Stateside troubadour with the unfortunate name was to be found backstage, scribbling in a well-thumbed notebook. By the time he stepped on stage, he'd penned three new songs. Two of them were duly debuted in a sprawling two-hour set which at times seemed seriously surreal as Adams' country twang careered off in unexpected directions, taking in rock, pop, heavy metal and, yes, Vera Lynn's greatest hits. The devilish He Knows My Name strolled through Steve Earle territory and Idiot
Dance - with Wolverhampton chanteuse Carina Round adding the harmonies - was literally an instant success.
Predictable only for his unpredictability, the Whiskeytown frontman mixed songs from his critically-acclaimed Heartbreaker album with audience requests for The Backstreet Boys, death metallers Slayer and The Rolling Stones. The chain-smoking songwriter served up rare beauty in amongst the other-worldly antics, with country-flavoured hallmark Winding Wheel a highlight of the evening.
His soft burr caressed Oh My Sweet Carolina and Sweet L'il Gal, and he rocked up To Be Young. More duets with songbird Round on Don't Ask For The Water and Come Pick Me Up were sublime.
Adams defied the diehards to add an inspirational revision of Oasis hit Wonderwall, his guitar-picking and vocal adding blues roots to give the 90s anthem real heart and soul.
Afterwards, Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz rang up to ask how the gig went - but had to wait to get through because Adams was on the other line to his mum. Rock'n'roll with a twist.
Originally printed in the Birmingham Sunday Mercury on 6th May 2001
Review by Patrick Wilkins
Ryan Adams - Live
- Ronnie Scott's, Birmingham - 1st May 2001
- Lyric, Hammersmith - 6th May 2001
There were rumours that Ryan was going to bring a band on this tour, but no, despite having played at the SXSW festival in Austin TX with a so called punk band (the Pink Hearts) this tour, like the visit to the UK last year, was more of what he refers to as his Solo Guy Thang. Ryan Adams live shows differ from the traditional album promotion tours in that probably two thirds of the set is of new songs, with only the odd familiar number or cover thrown in. Frequently Ryan will say that hes just written a song this week, even today, or in the soundcheck, play it, then ask the audience if its a keeper. At both the Birmingham and London shows he strolled on stage with an armful of notebooks that he dumped on a stool next to his drink and flicked through from time to time when deciding what to play next, set lists dont really fit Ryans world. Nothing at all from the Whiskeytown back catalogue featured at either show despite the recent appearance of the posthumous Pneumonia and despite the inevitable shouts for the likes of 16 Days and Factory Girl (actually that was me). So you get the idea? Ryan likes to do things his way. At Birmingham he was in full shambolic rambling mode, practically doing stand up comedy between songs, encouraging audience banter and telling stories of being assaulted with a guitar stand in Newcastle, and a Stateside backstage meeting with the Gallagher brothers. This light hearted presentation offers some respite from the mood generated by the songs which are slow, mournful, dusty, road weary affairs. Obviously in a band context Ryan can crank it up and rock in a Rolling Replacements style, but solo guy is too sensitive and introspective for that. Naturally a few songs from Heartbreaker were performed, with Come Pick Me Up becoming a crowd favourite, worthy support Carina Round singing back up on this one. A sparkling cover of the Oasis staple Wonderwall also featured, which highlighted the fact that it does bear a passing resemblance to Ryans own Winding Wheel. What is fascinating to see is the songs being created and formed in a live context, some songs had even changed between the Birmingham show on Tuesday and the London show on Sunday, the audience and their reaction becoming part of the creative process. The London show had more numbers from Heartbreaker and some more banter on a separate hotel room for his famously wayward hair, on Britney Spears, as the cheerleader with no team, and on how Ryan thinks he will be remembered as the guy from Limp Whiskeybizkit. Both these shows from the so called It Kid of alt.country were hugely entertaining, though Birmingham probably edged it with the bar atmosphere, and seeing a songwriter of such tremendous skill practically bursting with ideas and playing at the top of his playing form was a treat indeed. For God sake if you missed this tour, dont miss the next one, they dont come any better!
Originally online at americana-uk.com