Ryan Adams takes fans inside the mind’s eye of a flawed genius

***** (5 stars out of 6); May 7 at Falconer Salen

May 8th, 2012 10:48 am| by admin
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Aside from writing a shed-load of quality tunes, Ryan Adams has also provided one of the best musical soap operas of the last decade. Heroin and cocaine binges, injuring himself by falling off the stage and angry, self-righteous phone calls to critical journalists have helped lay the musician and the man bare alongside the 13 studio albums released since his debut in 2001. He would never have made it through the security gates at a serene Falconer Salen on a Monday night. Too much baggage.

The very mixed crowd was wowed by Adams from the word go. Shuffling onstage looking like a pissed-off adolescent with open shirt and frothy hair, he launched straight into a stripped down version of ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’. A couple of tracks from his latest album, 2011’s return-to-form Ashes and Fire then follow. Unlike when I saw him in 2005 (when he was, to use one of his track titles ‘drunk and f**ked up’), he seems very much the at-peace former wild child, an artist who can now also delve into his musical archive without snagging unwanted memories on the way down.

If he’s a modern day Dylan on the guitar and harmonica, he’s an edgier Tom Waits on the ivory keyboard. A jaw-dropping version of ‘The Rescue Blues’ stirs from the piano mid-set, as does a successfully rockier ‘Winding Wheel’.  ‘New York, New York’ and ‘Firecracker’ are two earlier, more upbeat tracks which also get the shaken up.

"I’ll do a ballad now, we haven’t had many of those," comes the introduction to one song. At this point, oddly, begins a sideshow which sees Adams talk to the laughing crowd about an imaginary heavy metal band he’s in, and about monsters and aliens. Is it funny? Parts. Other bits are painful. However, this is the licence fans grant to Adams. Irritating and compelling in equal measure, it’s a sort of a glimpse into the mind’s eye of a flawed genius. You bear it because of the music.

His penultimate song is his incredible cover of Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ from his Love is Hell album. It’s a version that even Noel Gallagher himself once praised and tonight still sounds as tormented as ever. After this, and another stoned-teenager-in-bedroom moment where he spends five full minutes moving his table items across the stage, he returns for a two-song encore, ending with the rousing ‘Come Pick Me Up’.

Everyone around my age in the crowd has grown up with Ryan Adams whether they know it or not – though not everyone has now got their shit together in the same way. 2012’s Adams is a more mature one who has reprised his songwriting ability and honesty. The evening’s show, and with it his guitar playing and gravelly voice, is faultless despite not being his best, and everyone in Falconer Salen, whether passing or more involved fans, is hooked. This soap opera has taken an absorbing new twist.

(All photos: Ella Navarro)
Out and About: Connecting Copenhageners, both internationals and Danes
  Last week on Thursday saw the inauguration of Absalon’s ‘folk...
The younger you are, the higher you aspire? (photo:istock)
Young people’s choice: the corporate ladder or the startup trampoline
  Young people are overrepresented among entrepreneurs, but is this...
Do you have what it takes to guess Brian's quiz? (photo: istock)
Brian’s Brainteaser
  How to win Identify what the clues in each circle have in common...
Looks like this autumn might be more daring that the last one (photo: istock)
Fashion Jam: Looking forward to the autumn trends
  I can’t believe a year has gone by since my first column. Just ...
(photo: Sting Nygaard)
Early September Art: Discovering treasures in the skyline
Art is more than paintings on the wall and sculptures in the park. We are s...
Party included 35,000 drinking glasses (photo:istock)
Today’s Date: Christian IV’s coronation
  On this day in 1596, King Christian IV was crowned king of Denmar...