New Music Express
May 19, 2020
Ryan Adams, tousled-haired savant and former frontman of gin-soaked alt-country wide boys Whiskeytown mumbles "piss off". And then he wakes up.
For the last half-hour he has said nothing. He has pulled faces, he has lit countless cigarettes, he has scanned through notebooks, looked set to embark on whatever song was held within and then abandoned the idea. He has also delivered a handful of tunes from his solo debut Heartbreaker but he hasnt uttered a word.
On his last visit to the UK, Adams audience banter was as much part of the show as his undeniably great songs, but tonight it takes a heckler asking "How is it up your ass?" before he becomes Ryan Adams once again.
"Nothing much to report," he says. "Im still not getting along with my hair. Were taking different rooms at hotels now."
Witty banter aside, Adams music could so easily sound tired and beat yet another singer-songwriter with a guitar, piano and harmonica bluffing his way through counterfeit Gram Parsons country Fortunately, he has the vocal chords of a soul great which makes you want to stare and listen.
Oh My Sweet Carolina and the show closing Come Pick Me Up are jaw-droppingly good tonight. Though some of the new songs are more miss than hit, such is the depth of his back catalogue that there is no real cause for concern
And hes young, still only 26. He really is, as a disgruntled fan who tried to choke him at an earlier show in Newcastle told him, "No Tom Waits and no Randy-fucking-Newman." For that we should give thanks.
Ryan Adams can be forgiven tonights crawl up his own ass because hes obviously still finding his feet.