Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


31 January 2009

Ryan Adams @ The Forum.

To be honest I don't get to many live shows. But the ones I do always seem to be the handful of artists I want to see the most, and they haven't disappointed. This was my first time seeing Ryan Adams live and it was no exception to the rule. I was first introduced to his music through Kat, with "Enemy Fire" off the Gold album sticking in my mind as the first track I really dug. And then a rare obsession began from there, and I devoured every album quickly, both solo and with the Cardinals backing band, till there was no more. And then Steve made me a rare mix cd of Whiskytown, his previous band which is pretty much the top dog on high rotation on the ipod. If it rotated. Listening to more of his material I really got into the country twinged ballads with some unbelievable lyric and song writing. This from a guy who grew up on non maintsream hardcore punk/ska and still loves 90's grunge flannel and boots rock. All of a sudden I had grown a liking to slide guitar, banjo, violin, harmonica and songs with a "train shuffle" rhythm. So this show was quite anticipated to say the least, and despite Melbourne's hottest 3 days on record I still had some energy in reserve for some good times musical listening.

Firstly the support act. I am pretty sure with Ryan handpicking the band, he was taking the piss. Either that or he just didn't care one way or another. And they would have been rapt to score a nice slot to a sold out Forum crowd, but 4 older (think 50+) blokes singing naf comedy songs about Footscray and Kylie Minougue was kinda lame. Plus their lead guitarist looked and acted a little too much like Justin Hawkins from the Darkness... but 25 years on. Anyway, their harmonies were pretty good and they had fun...who am I to judge....but I guess I was anxious for the main act.

Two fluorescent blue rose symbols flanked by the classic Cardinals logo was the back drop for the five piece and they came on in front of an eager crowd. All of a sudden the mood set in, with the lush guitar sound of "When Stars Go Blue" kicked off the evening. And it was great. Being one of Kat's favourites it reminded me of her and perhaps if she hadn't played a certain album in her car when we met in 07', I wouldn't be standing in this room. Going into see bands I guess you have your personal tracks you hope to hear. Only three songs in I got my wish with a cranking version of "Let It Ride" from the Cold Roses album....."Tennessee's a brother to my sister Carolina, where they gonna bury me?"....great song. Then the gold kept coming. I don't mind covers being dropped into the set list at all. But only if they are good. When Tim Rogers did the Lennon track "Instant Karma (We All Shine On)" it was a highlight of the set and Pearl Jam do great versions of The Who and Neil Young. So Ryan has recorded his own version/arrangement of Oasis's "Wonderwall" on a previous album and it is brilliant. To the point where I heard Noel G said it was better than his original. So when he dropped it into the set it truly was a real treat. But it didn't end there. "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and "Why Do They Leave" also were played. Awesome.

Ryan himself is quite the obnoxious (yet freakishly talented) musician, taking the piss outta the crowd controllers who were spraying the front section with water, wondering "how they got to be people sprayers and that he needs to change jobs". After hearing a fan scream out he began a humorous anecdote of creating a similar sound while watching the latest Underworld film last week in Brisbane. But the funniest moments of the night were when halfway during the set he took on the persona of an 80's hair metal band front man, complete with a high pitched falsetto. I guess you had to be there...but the guy definitely walks to the sound of his own beat.

The set finished with a big jam on "Easy Plateau" and that was all she wrote. No encore unfortunately. But I guess I get a bit spoiled when Pearl Jam do two or sometimes three. The new songs from the recently released Cardinology album went down well. Sadly I read that post March after this tour finishes, Ryan is hanging up the guitar in favor of the pen, with his first novel "Infinity Blues" set for release soon. Lets hope that doesn't happen for too long.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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