Review: Ryan Adams at the TLA (Philadelphia)

Recent interviews with Ryan Adams had me excited, it seems that the alt-country “bad boy” has been clean and sober for the last year. Normally I honestly wouldn’t care – Rock’n’Roll means drugs – but Mr. Adams has burned me before. The last time he played in Philadelphia he was angry and paranoid getting into several verbal skirmishes with the audience (telling one guy he wasn’t going to get laid was actually pretty funny but distracting none the less). He eventually walked off stage. Now almost two years later I wondered if buying a ticket to a Ryan Adams show would be worth the money, the answer was a resounding yes.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the lack of opening act. Sometimes you win, most times you lose, so I was glad the night started with Ryan & the Cardinals and ended that way. Of course he came out 35 minutes late, but I didn’t expect him to be on time. Adams set the stage up similar to his most recent tonight show performance, all the musicians were seated and the boys were presented in a straight line with the drummer at center. With the band sitting on their asses and me being on the floor, it was hard to see the band, but I honestly didn’t care considering they were just sitting down.

The first few songs of the night started off slow and had me a bit worried, but then it all came together. Adams and company steered clear of their most popular songs (New York, New York, Come Pick Me Up, To be Young, Stars Go Blue) instead favoring his country western-esque material such as Magnolia Mountain, Beautiful Sorta, some tracks from his new album, and some reworked songs from Demolition (Dear Chicago was a crowd pleaser).

There were a few elements of the show that did fall short. The gentleman working the boards was not on his game, the audio sounded hollow and tinny. When Adams spoke to the audience (which is a miracle in itself) it was almost impossible to hear it. The concert ended around 11:30 PM and since Ryan got up around 9:30, I was a little disappointed that the show didn’t go on a little longer. I was looking forward to hearing Let it Ride and Winding Wheel with the 7 piece band – but it was not meant to be.

Overall, the band sounded great, Ryan was looking happy and healthy, and Ryan managed to go an entire show without getting into a fight with someone in the audience. Do I consider that money well spent? You bet your ass.

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