I spent most of Ryan Adam‘s set on my knees. Doing a Monica Lewinsky? Unfortunately not, I was only down there because Koko was so packed by the time we arrived that the only possible place to get a glimpse of the show was up in the heavens, where you had to drop to the floor to view the stage between the tops of people’s heads and the balcony jutting out above. Koko is not short-person friendly…especially when the band are all seated.
Neal Casal is expected to open for Ryan, but tonight there’s no opening slot and bang on 9pm Ryan Adams and his band come onto stage. There’s no guitar on hand for Ryan as he’s injured his arm in a skateboarding accident and he visibly fidgets throughout the set, perched on a stool sat not as a solo artist, but in the middle of the line up. Declining to adcknowledge the crowd they slip into the opening track, and so the question hovers – do we have Ryan the show man, who’ll sit and tell funny little anecdotes and have the crowd in stitches, or do we have Ryan the ‘serious musician’, who says nothing, and just plays on.
Seems that tonight Ryan is taking himself a little more seriously, there’s no balaclavas or Cookie Monster stories like his last London stop off, but instead the set is unbelievably polished, the band are tight, working as one in an hour long set that glides perfectly from track to track, with his new album ‘Easy Tiger‘ set for release on June 26th, tonight is all about showcasing the new tracks, and the set list is without even one of his UK singles, but the new tracks we’re hearing for the first time are undeniably beautiful. As Adams himself puts it “I’m feeling this stuff. Is anybody else feeling it?’
‘Nightbirds‘ is beautifully reproduced, but it’s Gold’s closing track ‘Good Night Hollywood Boulevard‘ which gives you goosebumps. ‘I See Monsters‘ ends the show, and gets a rousing reception from the crowd, who seem ecstatic to finally recognize a song. Coming back to stage for an encore we get a glimpse of the joker, with Ryan visibly more relaxed and jokey. ‘Winding Wheel‘ is sublime, and a cover of Alice in Chains ‘Down in a Hole‘ is spot on.
Tonight’s show is slick and well put together…but a little underwhelming. Knowing what an entertainer Ryan can be, tonight is a little disappointing, they seem to be going through the motions rather than really enjoying it. The sound is amazing, he’s bang on with every crystal clear note, but whilst his new found sobriety has helped his performance as a musician, it’s taken away the light hearted banter, the silly stories and the goofy laugh – and the rumblings from the crowd suggest that it’s missed. £27 for a short and rather listless set without even an opening band can leave a nasty taste in your mouth – especially when you know what a breathtaking performance he’s capable of.