I haven’t stated anywhere that the ARM column would have been limited only to actually recorded music or album releases in general. Therefore, I’m now totally exploiting the opportunity to share some lasting emotions and perennial thoughts I’m currently experiencing derived from the show I attended last Friday night, namely Ryan Adams’s Londoner stop at a sold out Hammersmith Apollo supported by the lovely and extremely talented Natalie Prass. Not only was the venue itself fabulous and breath-taking, but also the overall experience provoked by the magic force of the US alt-country rocker was truly one of a kind. I won’t forget it anytime soon for sure.
I gotta say, this was the first time seeing him live for me. It’s also fair to say that it’s only recently, let’s say the past two or three years, that I’ve really gotten into him and his repertoire. Also, I’ve been literally obsessed with his last self-titled album having it on repeat since last December. It just encapsulates everything modern rock music should be about: from the widest range of transmitted emotions to a large variety of incredible and good-sounding melodies, harmonisation, and songwriting. With that said, I was obviously extremely delighted to notice how Ryan played a good six songs off of such newest effort, including amongst them Grammy-nominated rocky intro “Gimme Something Good”, personal favourite and emotionally intense “Stay With Me”, as well as the delicate and fragile ballad “My Wrecking Ball”, which all appear to me as very good examples of how stunning this last album really is. But there was a lot more to it than a wonderful set-listed focus on his most recent self-titled output, which I undoubtedly took as a personal gift arranged relying on the fact that I was in the audience. Jokes aside, with over two hours of live performance and an overall amount of 23 songs played (see setlist below), Ryan had the chance to navigate through his immense and highly-prolific catalogue spanning over more than 15 years and ranging from intimate tunes such as “Dear Chicago”, “My Winding Wheel”, and “Oh My Sweet Carolina” (performed as a wonderful duet with opening act Natalie Prass), going through more well-known tracks like “New York, New York” and “When the Stars Go Blue”, all the way until the more recent “Kim” (probably one of the greatest songs of 2014) and the Springsteenian “I Just Might”.
Another element that made Friday night unforgettable was the spectacular choreography that was set up as background to Ryan and his backing band The Shining (by the way, very convincing), showing a rather minimal design composed of many fragmented light bulbs attached across the whole surface that worked just perfectly. Moreover, yet another highlight of the evening occurred as the North Carolina-native successfully improvised a brand new song out of a random line shouted at him by a member of the audience (“I Ate Something Off The Street”), which not only received massive praise from the whole public and was in fact as pretty great as it was hilarious, but it also warmed up well Ryan and his guitar before jumping into the aforementioned “Kim”.
Yet, I must say the best moments for me were both the absolutely touching “This House Is Not For ‘Fucking’ Sale” (as introduced by Mr Adams himself), to which for a fair amount of reasons I can relate so much, and the last two songs of the evening, the forte-piano-driven “I See Monsters”, which took whole new forms and dimensions performed live, and the classic folky tune as well as fans-favourite “Come Pick Me Up” (also accompanied by a lovely vocal dialogue with Prass). The closing track is probably his most famous recorded one, and for that matter it really didn’t disappoint live either, as much as the overall show in general. Moreover, acting as a sort of almost surreal glue keeping the gig together, there was a deep sensation of emotional involvement experiencing on the part of all of the audience members, without any kind of social compromising camouflage. That is, before last night I’d never had the sensation of being among a crowd of over 8000 people all keeping unbelievably quiet and standing literally still for Adams’s most delicate solo performances in order to enjoy them as intensively as possible. You really almost couldn’t hear any kind of noise coming from the audience, and still if you’d looked around, there’d have been an overwhelming wave of other companions coming from all directions simply looking at The Man and sipping from bottles of beer or cheap glasses of wine. In fact, it was something unique, rare, intimate, and shared among many fellow-attendees at the same time. It showcased a beautifully inspired Ryan, who didn’t step back when it was time to joke around with the mic and interacting with the audience, but who also took care of taming the stage with just his emotional voice and the help of six strings on an acoustic guitar. Everything worked out so perfectly well. Everything from the music, through the choreography, to the fans’ reaction. Unsurprisingly, after all, since it’s Ryan Adams.
This is the rad setlist he performed:
Gimme Something Good
Let It Ride
Stay With Me
This House Is Not For Sale
My Winding Wheel (acoustic solo)
New York, New York
I Ate Something Off The Street (improvisation)
My Wrecking Ball
I Just Might
I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say
Your Fool (Natalie Prass cover)
Oh My Sweet Carolina (w/ Natalie Prass)
La Cienega Just Smiled
When the Stars Go Blue
I See Monsters
Come Pick Me Up (w/ Natalie Prass)
I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.