Ryan Adams Returns with a Band (At Least for a Night)
On Tuesday night, Ryan Adams returned to the stage with a band for the first time since November 2010. And not just any stage- London’s famed Royal Albert Hall to be exact. Adams was there to kickoff a series of benefits in support of the Teenager Cancer Trust. As it happens, the seven-event series, which includes performances by Primal Scream, Echo & The Bunnymen, Kasabian and Paul Weller, is being curated by Adams’ pal Noel Gallagher. (Gallagher is scheduled to perform this Saturday for the event with Blur’s Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon.) Adams’ former band The Cardinals did a string of dates with Oasis back in 2008 though the two groups never collaborated onstage.
What’s significant about Adams performing with a group is that ever since the release of last year’s Ashes & Fire, the singer/songwriter only performed solo for an extensive tour that began in 2011 and went into 2012. He has often cited the reason for his doing so is, in large part, due to hearing-related issues that afflict him as result of tinnitus and Ménière’s disease. Fans have long wondered if he will reconfigure The Cardinals for another tour.
While that wasn’t the case Tuesday, Adams backing band did feature at least one former Cardinal- pedal steel guitarist Cindy Cashdollar who toured with the group for a brief stint in 2004 and played on the jammier-oriented album Cold Roses. Two other members of the evening’s band are Adams alum: multi-instrumentalist Ethan Johns who produced the
singer/songwriter’s first two records and keyboardist Benmont Tench who appears on the recent Ashes & Fire. (Tench is also longtime member of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers.) Rounding out the lineup was bassist and noted producer Don Was and drummer Jeremy Stacey. (Stacey plays in Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.)
The 18-song set ran along similar lines to Adams’ recent solo performances with an emphasis on Ashes & Fire (“Dirty Rain,” “Ashes & Fire,” “Invisible Riverside”), his Heartbreaker debut (“My Winding Wheel,” “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” “Come Pick Me Up”) and then a smattering of songs from throughout his prolific career in between (“Nobody Girl,” “English Girls Approximately,” “Let It Ride,” “Dear John”).
Of particular note was the debut of two news songs which are rumored to be part of a forthcoming album helmed by legendary producer Glyn Johns who also did Ashes & Rain. (Ethan is Glyn’s son.)
For the evening’s fifth song, Adams sang “Where I Meet You in My Mind” a mid-tempo blues number that could fit easily fit on any number of his latter day albums.
And then, a little over half way through the performance, he delivered “In The Shadows,” a chugging, Springsteen-like blues vamp that crackled with energy and tension and heard Cashdollar and Tench both taking crisp solos. Reportedly, the comic-loving singer introduced the song by saying, “Let’s set the scene: You’re a vampire and you’re in a car late at night, driving across town to go and maybe…kill a werewolf.”
While Adams has yet to announce a tour (or album), he is slated to appear at Kristen and Stephen Stills’ “Light Up the Blues Concert- An Evening of Music to Benefit Autism Speaks”
with such artists as CSN, Rickie Lee Jones and Lucinda Williams. No word on whether he will be performing with a band.
Sidenote: If you haven’t heard Adams version of Wonderwall you’re missing out. Noel Gallagher told Relix in 2008 that, “When Ryan does it, it’s the blues. I didn’t know it until I heard his version. … The way he sings it is just perfect. I love it. And I love him for doing it.”)
Click here to check out the latest tunes from Mr. Adams.
The evening’s setlist:
Ashes & Fire
My Winding Wheel
This Is Where We Meet In My Mind [new song]
Loaf Of Bread [improv]
Please Do Not Let Me Go
Why Do They Leave?
Let It Ride
In The Shadows [new song]
Oh My Sweet Carolina [solo]
English Girls Approximately [solo]
Do I Wait?
I Love You, But I Don’t Know What To Say – Dear John
Come Pick Me Up