Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ryan Adams - does the mediocrity outweigh the genius?

Last night was Ryan Adams and the Cardinals' third and final show at New York's Town Hall (think "A Mighty Wind"). I went to the latter two and I had a great time. Good friends were there, the venue is beautiful and historic, I had good seats and Ryan Adams is up there in my pantheon--along with Grateful Dead, Phish, Dylan, Tom Waits and Jeff Tweedy. I *love* his music.

From the first time I heard "Oh My Sweet Carolina" in college, I've always been a fan of Ryan. When Cold Roses came out, I became an uber-fan--it was the album I needed him to make (not that I knew it at the time). 8 songs from Cold Roses remain in heavy rotation: Magnolia Mountain, Cold Roses, Easy Plateau, Let It Ride, Cherry Lane, Sweet Illusions, Beautiful Sorta, Life Is Beautiful. That late night Bowery show on 6/23/06 was superbly perfect--every note and every song. Just an amazing show.

But I can do without the mediocrity. I can do without the crowd yelling shit at him. I was surrounded by the utmost douchebaggery last night, it was simply unbelievable--the drunken frat boy who is offended that people aren't up and dancing (we're at Town Hall, for cryin' out loud), who then encourages the girls in front of us (who only showed up for the last 15 minutes of the show) to get up and dance, and one of them sweetly turned around and asked my crew if we minded that she stood up and blocked Jen and Jeff's view completely--to which I said "Yes, I mind"--and she turned around and kept dancing. I can do without idiots yelling "Summer of 69"--it's just not funny.

I can do without the unintelligible banter in between songs (that's right, I'm talking about Ryan). I can do without a ten-minute setbreak when you're only playing for 75 minutes. I can do without you walking off stage 30 minutes before curfew. I can do WITH an encore or two. And I'd get down with more acoustic/harmonica playing (ok, that's just my nitpicky taste).

There were some completely transcendent moments--Nobody Girl, Come Pick Me Up, Oh My Sweet Carolina, Hallelujah, Cherry Lane, Easy Plateau, Firecracker, Stella Blue all rocked my world.

I guess all I'm saying is that it would be a whole lot cooler if he dropped the shtick and just played music. Lose the pigtails and high-heels (or pony tail and 8" platform knee-high boots) and eye makeup and let the music talk for you. Play us more songs--that's what we're there for. Grow a set of balls and don't let the hecklers get to you.

I'm sure it's incredibly hard for you to play shows being sober and I know you're sensitive. But you can't let jackasses in the crowd get under your skin. It's a rock show--people are going to yell out song requests. Ignore them or joke about it (like you did last night--"Oh my god, I don't have a setlist!), but don't end your show early because of it. Seriously dude--you've got to have grow up and be a man about it. I know it sucks, but deal with it. That's what we're paying you to do.

Music Notes:
I'm going to see the WoWz tomorrow night at the Brooklyn Lyceum, hopefully followed by Rubulad. Either way, it will all be preceeded by a fantastic dinner at Blue Ribbon Sushi, courtesy of Caroline Naughton and her very generous nature.


At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the Tuesday show and I told my friend that I went with the same exact thing. The music is great, but I can do without the talking for 5-10 minutes at a time. It's a distraction to how good a musician he is.

At 12:59 PM, Blogger rob ronanea said...

see i like his talking (when it's coherent). i just wish the idiots in the crowd wouldn't talk to him.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Heather said...

I agree with you. R.A. is one of my very favorite musicians, too; I've been a fan since Whiskeytown. I last saw him in play a horrible show in May '05 and resolved that I wouldn't go again unless he seriously grew the hell up and put on a professional show all the time, not just when he felt like it. I agree with you about the idiots in his audiences, too. For some reason, his fan base gets younger and younger.


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