Ryan Adams at the Olympia Theatre – Review
‘Let’s get weird’ shouts Ryan Adams, walking onstage to an expectant Olympia audience on Thursday this week, kicking off with ‘Gimme Something Good’, the lead single from 2014’s self titled record, an atmospheric, Tom Petty esque rock n roll walker, organ wailing, delayed choppy electric guitars swarm, his voice lazily shaping syllables, a 4 piece band backing the man the crowd came to see and they call loudly welcoming his entrance. Adams bursts past the first few numbers, eager to burn through a few opening upbeat tunes at the beginning to settle into the set and by the time he begins a gorgeous rendition of ‘Dear Chicago’, quickened pace, dynamic drums tapping out the urgent rhythm, gently driving a country beat, reverberated chiming electric guitars compete and the crowd call their appreciation. Interacting joyously with the audience throughout, Adams is in top form, witty and wild, quick in retort to hollering hecklers, he seems happy to be onstage, ecstatic to be playing in the splendour of his surroundings, sounding such an opinion: ‘I wish I could play here every night of my life’, the Olympia’s allure.
With fourteen studio albums to choose from, Adams has a wealth of material to call upon and he keeps the audience guessing as to which track will get a walk out, but well known numbers like ‘Winding Wheel’, sung solo with an acoustic for company has the crowd singing along softly, as does ‘New York, New York’, presented in an alternative form to the album version, eluding audience expectation, although they’re happy to hear the hits, especially when harmonica hums and buzzes over the scratchy conclusion of the track, eliciting an ecstatic reaction, with Adams exclaiming in mock protest, ‘ Hey you guys yelled over the end!’
The enchanting dynamic shifts of ‘Magnolia Mountain’, from Adams’ days with backing band The Cardinals, echoes of 1960’s country folk rock group The Band, especially the high falsetto harmonies, whilst ‘Kim’, from his current offering, has a spacious 80’s feel, a lazy intro beating into brash drums and whirling synthesiser.
Support act Natalie Prass (whose set shone so strongly it deserves a whole glowing review to itself) joins the band onstage for ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’, a gorgeous country lament, yearning for home, and her silk smooth voice inserts itself seamlessly into the mix. Adams’ older material still holds immense value, possessing a reserved emotional tenacity, demanding to be heard, like ‘La Cienega Just Smiled’, material from 2001’s Gold still shines. ‘I See Monsters’ begins with vocals and solo guitar and beats into a full band thump, shaking the speakers, the audience roaring in response to the display of dynamic playing whilst the chorus of ‘Come Pick Me Up’ catches the audience and they join in, a cacophony of voices, calling the night to a close.
And then it all ends with the band having a sword fight on-stage. Naturally, one would think, as Adams on form is a fine sight to see.
Review by Andy Guyett