Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Once upon a time it would’ve been hard to picture Ryan Adams’ current live presence solidifying quite as it has: backed with his still new-ish band the Shining, he’s settled into a mode of stoned, jammy gigs full of slow-burners and a handful of the most perfect guitar tones around. Last night’s set had a little something for everyone, managing to touch on moments from throughout his solo career. Last year’s excellent self-titled might’ve been a little underrepresented (though he did play three songs from it), but it was also pretty cool to see Adams play what would essentially for him be a greatest hits set. For me, the highlights were, as always, when he plays stuff from Cold Roses — last night it was the title track, “Let It Ride,” and “Magnolia Mountain.” Aside from it possibly being my favorite DRA album, these songs — in the mellowed, warmed sprawl of their current iteration — sit best out of any of his past work amongst the man’s new material and his whole general ethos these days. The other stunner for me was finally getting to hear the dramatic live version of “I See Monsters,” but the crowd really went for “When The Stars Go Blue” and “New York, New York.”

Even when playing comparatively up material like “New York, New York,” Adams’ set did have the feeling of a kind of reprieve or lullaby for a Saturday night set — the contemplative, hang-with-your-friends jam session vs. Deadmau5’s party across the festival grounds. Adams noticed that, too, making sardonic comments about his onetime-supposed-collaborator and electronic music like “Try to make this song on your fucking iPhone,” and “Thanks for choosing rock ‘n’ roll tonight, thanks for choosing humans.” Adams was joking around all night, though. That’s the weird balance of his shows — you’re going to get a lot of slow, sad songs with some of the most moving melodies, but Adams is going to play them in front of a stage decorated with vintage arcade games, a Dr. Pepper machine, and giant, cartoonish amp cabinets. He’s a fun, quirky person to see play, and then he’ll just throw out these moments that are so weirdly emotive. Like when he improvised a song with the chorus “Raise your hand in the air if you had a hot dog tonight,” but then ended the whole thing with: “New York, I love you, you’re gonna be alright.” And then he closed with “Come Pick Me Up,” and everything did feel alright. –Ryan

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