Feb 29, 2012

Ryan Adams @ Sydney Opera House


This is the Sydney Opera House. World famous you could say. Last night we were privileged to be in the company of the wonderful Ryan Adams at this very venue. He enforces a pretty stringent no photo policy, so that is why I have a photo of the venue and not him. Tuesday night was my first time seeing Ryan in concert and I was totally blown away by his performance and his personality. He was charming, delightfully odd, responsive and touchingly real.

The man played a long set. Just over two hours, but it never lagged at any stage. He traversed his entire catalogue. Even throwing in some Whiskeytown tunes for good measure. Ryan opened the night with the eternal classic "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and we all melted as one. But there was more greatness to come as Mr Adams moved from instrument to instrument. He started in the sitting down mode with two acoustic guitars (painted red, white and blue) and harmonica. Sometimes he would move to the left of the stage to play his guitars standing up. He also gave us a few tunes on the stand up piano. These were probably my highlights. "Sylvia Plath" was a sublime wonder, whilst "New York, New York" was pared back and down to reveal a song of heartbreaking wonder. He also played quite a few songs from 2011's "Ashes & Fire" which actually sounded better live then on record. "Dirty Rain" was a particular standout I thought. Adams was also very charming and personable. Often referencing his previous 'bad' behaviour he would make jokes about how he had changed but you could meet the 'old Ryan' after the show if you liked. He conveys a certain odd charm that is actually extremely likeable, going off on strange tangents such as calling the venue the 'Temple of Doom' and talking about a fishing expedition in 1963. I didn't know he also improvises songs on stage. Which he did last night. Such as one about a mythical creature named 'Oratu' or the piano piece about his love letter to his cats. This was funny but also very touching. The man has quite a reputation. As a singer, as a performer and also as a personality. All were on display last night. His songs aren't overly complicated. Melodies are simple and direct. But they contain a beautiful sensibility, armed with a voice that is so human and so effective and affecting. It makes for a performer that connects with his audience in a major way. This was easy to tell with rapturous applause after every number and screams of delight at the start of each new one. I had waited a long time to see Ryan Adams perform live, but the wait was well worth it.

Set List
Oh My Sweet Carolina
Ashes & Fire
If I Am A Stranger
Dirty Rain
My Winding Wheel
The Rescue Blues
Please Do Not Let Me Go
Jacksonville Skyline
Firecracker
Everybody Knows
Dear Chicago
Sylvia Plath
Let It Ride
English Girls Approximately
Chains Of Love
Wonderwall
Lucky Now
Oratu (Improv)
Do I Wait
Mr Cat (Improv)
New York, New York
Two
16 Days
Thank You (Improv)
Come Pick Me Up

Round & Round
Strawberry Wine

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