Ryan Adams | 01.31.12

The antsy crowd was quick to applaud at Adams’ first progressions—as if knowing the song and applauding it before anyone else would give them the appropriate hipster cred.

The lights dimmed and the distracted crowd flooded in the main doors of the Peabody, free of all drinks and recording devices per the artist’s request. Ryan Adams took the stage, looking like he just rolled out of bed; his hair was a matted-down mess of spikes, unsure of whether it was representing the roll ‘n’ roll side of Adams or the Easy Tiger. He offered the crowd two polite waves as he delicately placed his leather jacket on the back of his chair.  

He led his set with “Sweet Carolina,” a heartbreaker he often reserves for the end of his sets. The set list was a little predictable. This was presented as a solo acoustic show; however, his presentation was unique. The Peabody fell silent, perhaps at the risk of being thrown out for rustling too much. Either way, Adams’ powerfully intimate delivery made the request worthwhile, especially during his loftier translations of “Sweet Lil’ Gal” and “My Winding Wheel.”

The uptight environment was a source of conversation after the show. Some concert-goers hated not being able to enjoy the show on their own terms, while others loved the restrictions, which allowed them to enjoy an artist at work. After battling the threat of hearing loss and “quitting music,” Adams made quite the artistic comeback. Though his show was much tamer than other tours, his artistic integrity and precision impressed the better half of the audience.  

His reputable angsty attitude and carelessness were replaced with a professional demeanor, that of an artist. Perhaps Adams did grow into his complicated lyrics, his latest release Ashes and Fire a fitting example of his maturity; the rest of the show followed in its footsteps. At his lead, the music was somber and “depressing”; however, Adams playful sarcasm was particularly notable. The antsy crowd was quick to applaud at his first progressions—as if knowing the song and applauding it before anyone else would give them the appropriate hipster cred. 

Adams toyed with the crowd’s kneejerk reaction, saying, “I don’t know what song I’m playing yet, but half of my songs use the same introduction.”  He then joked about his songs’ generic relationship with thoughts of love and the weather before he cleverly transitioned into his popular single “Dirty Rain” off Ashes and Fire. 

Adams finished up with an Alice in Chains cover and a birthday tribute for Isbell, who was celebrating his birthday the following day. The show was not the typical Ryan Adams experience; but only Iggy Pop can run with that. It was refreshing to see Adams living up to his potential in his respected comeback. | Kelly Glueck

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