“My friend thinks you need to take it up a notch,” yelled a woman to Ryan Adams halfway through his set at Playhouse Square's Ohio Theatre last night.
What followed was a long, hilarious rant by Adams, who pointed out the obvious fact: if you wanted guitar solos, explosions, fancy lighting — or just drums, for that matter — you came to the wrong show.
It was an intimate performance, with just the singer-songwriter and no band, playing stripped-down versions of his songs on acoustic guitar and piano. Judging by the rest of the audience's reaction to the exchange, it was clear that most people were pretty content with the format.
It would be hard for anyone to argue how incredible the sound was in the theater. Every note and every detail of Adams' delicate voice was captured perfectly in the mix.
If you've ever been on the fence about Adams' vocal skills, last night's show would have convinced you that he's the real deal. It also helped that the concert was in such a classy joint, since there weren't any distractions to contend with. You could hear a pin drop in the place.
Adams played for two hours, covering a huge chunk of his solo catalog, plus a couple of tracks from his work with the Cardinals. While he did play a handful of cuts from his latest album, Ashes & Fire, the majority of the show focused on fan favorites.
Highlights included a reworked piano version of Gold's “New York, New York,” a haunting cover of Oasis' “Wonderwall” (from Love Is Hell), Cardinology's passionate “Crossed Out Name,” and terrific renditions of Heartbreaker's “Damn Sam (I Love a Woman That Rains)” and “Come Pick Me Up,” the concert's closer.
New material, like "Dirty Rain," was well-received too.
For a dude who writes some seriously sad lyrics, Adams exhibited a pretty good sense of humor onstage last night. Between songs, he'd often make self-deprecating jokes about the mood and tempo of his material.
He also played some impromptu jams about his cat to lighten up the mood. His personality was almost just as engaging as his music. That woman's friend was certainly mistaken: Adams' performance was nothing short of great. —Eddie Fleisher