Friday, September 28, 2007

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, State Theatre (09.27.07)

What do you say about a concert when the best part about it is the backdrop and the disco ball? That’s the conundrum I’m facing after Ryan’s painfully short sold out show last night at the State. After seeing their transcendent show at the Cedar in June, expectations were certainly high, especially with Ryan’s wrist injury fully healed and him back on electric guitar. And things started out brightly enough, with quick opener ‘Two’ followed by a highly energized, extended version of ‘Goodnight Rose.’ With the wonderful ‘star-filled sky’ backdrop accentuating the fully electrified sound, the mood was good and the sound was sublime. Things were looking up, but things were about to change. ‘Beautiful Sorta’ was engaging, but the rawness wasn’t there, plus Ryan was gesturing towards the sound tech guy side stage for a good part of the song. It was, unfortunately, a sign of things to come. Seeing Ryan play the piano during ‘Rescue Blues’ was definitely a highlight. It added some life to the song and the set, but during a very mellow version of ‘Let It Ride’ you could easily tell that Ryan wasn’t happy about the monitors. The song was pretty lifeless, almost like Ryan was just trying to get through it in order to deal with the sound issues. I was extremely excited to hear ‘Dear Chicago,’ since I’ve never seen Ryan play that live before. But it turned out to be a listless, rushed emotionless version with Ryan’s vocals barely audible in the mix. ‘Peaceful Valley’ and ‘Nightbirds’ were good, because they are really good songs, but there was nothing special about either of them. No added elements that made them truly memorable-it certainly didn’t help that during the final chorus of ‘Nightbirds’ we were jostled out of our seats by people trying to get back to their seats. There were a lot of people getting up/down during the show, something I just don’t quite understand. I would’ve liked another drink during the show, certainly, but I paid good money to see Ryan and the band, not wait in line at the bar. And who asks people to get up during the middle of a song-at least be courteous enough to wait until the song is over. I mean, come on, at baseball games you have to wait until the at-bat is over before you’re allowed to come back to your seats, and a Ryan Adams show is more significant than a baseball game(at least when your team is out of the pennant race-next year Twins.) Plus, I’m sure if they would have known how short the show was going to be, they would have rethought their decision. The wildly uneven show continued with a stellar version of ‘Dear John’ with the passion and the sentimentality that I’ve come to expect from Ryan over the years. But again, he followed up a great song with a rather languid version of ‘Wildflowers’ that seemed to deflate whatever energy he had built up with the fantastic ‘Dear John.’ It was at this point that I believe Ryan just thought ‘to hell with the sound problems, let’s turn it up loud’ and they tore through a smokin’ version of ‘Shakedown’ that rattled the walls of the venerable old State Theatre. Again, I thought that a corner was turned and the worst was behind us. ‘Cold Roses’ was good, especially with the lighting alternating with the chord changes, and ‘The End’ showed promise but lacked the fervency that would have made the song special. But the gesturing and conversation with the sound tech continued, with Ryan even going so far as to moving his own monitors and pedals closer to the rest of the band in frustration. But in the crowd the sound was great, perhaps Ryan’s vocals could have been louder in the mix, but the sound where I was (main floor, 20 rows back) was fine. Next was a pretty sweet version of ‘Please Do Not Let Me Go’ that was nice, but again, no real sentiment behind the song, just the song itself. I’ve seen some Ryan Adams shows where you wish, after a certain point, that he would stop rambling and just play more music. Last night wasn’t one of them. He never really engaged the audience until after ‘…Let Me Go,’ telling them that ‘they sound like cavemen with all the yelling,’ and he doesn’t understand a word that they are saying. He went on to say that they have a new sound man and they are working through some issues, but ‘we’re just going to smile and get through it, because it’s always nice playing here for you people.’ Then, as they were getting ready for the next song, there was a long pause, after which Ryan sighed and said ‘Thanks. This is our last song. Check it out.’ And that, with a high energy but rushed version of ‘A Kiss Before I Go,’ was that. One hour and five minutes after coming on stage, they were off. That isn't 'smiling and getting through it.' That's taking the ball and going home. They left to rather rapturous applause, which continued on for a couple minutes, until the houselights came on and people realized the show was over. It’s unfortunate to get a show like that, especially knowing what Ryan Adams & The Cardinals are capable of on nights that they are on. This show was too uneven for them to build any true momentum, and it lacked the connection that Ryan so often makes with his audience. There were certainly flashes of brilliance, but overall I felt extremely disappointed with the brevity of the show, and can only hope that he remembers that he owes this city and the people that paid good money for only 65 minutes of music, so next time through town he blows the roof off whatever venue he plays in, and makes people completely forget that they were shortchanged last evening.

Erik T.


1. Two
2. Goodnight Rose
3. Beautiful Sorta
4. Rescue Blues
5. Let It Ride
6. Dear Chicago
7. Peaceful Valley
8. Nightbirds
9. Dear John
10. Wild Flowers
11. Shakedown On 9th Street
12. Cold Roses
13. The End
14. PLease Do Not Let Me Go
15. A Kiss Before I Go

Airports and Atlases at the Hexagon Bar 9/27/07

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Airports And Atlases
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Their are some great local bands, such as popular bands White Light Riot, The Alarmists, and Cloud Cult. If you dig deep into the underground scene Airports and Atlases are slowly making a climb. Currently A and A are my favorite local band and have some much talent it's insane. This was the best local performance I've seen from a band. I'll be on a mission to set these guys up with some tour dates and put together some promo dvd's for them. Their CD release show is scheduled for Nov. 3rd at the Nomad. Be there!!
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