Though seemingly young, Ryan Adams has been around for quite some time. Blending the attitudes of garage rock and alternative with folk and country, the North Carolina native has been steadily making his mark on the modern music scene for nearly two decades. So perhaps it came as little surprise that on Friday night at Albanys the Egg, Ryan Adams and his Cardinals (or now labeled as simply The Cardinals,” according to nonother than Adams himself) did not disappoint in the slightest. For just over two hours – nearly a half an hour past The Eggs 11 oclock closing time – a Neil Young and Crazy-Horse-like energy filled the small-seated venue for the entire monster set, mixing absurdly talented sounds with equally silly banter, and leaving the many gathered that night with a perfect example of the stunning eccentricity that is a Ryan Adams performance.
With no opener, the Cardinals took the stage behind the activation of two large blue neon roses, and immediately sought to turn up the energy. Adams mumbled briefly into the microphone, before lapsing into Cobwebs, one of the many new selections highlighted off of the forthcoming Cardinology. As would be the case for all of new material debuted during this evening, the hooky tune was received with the same warmth and excitement as the numerous old favorites. As the song winded down and some last second, impromptu jamming subsided, Adams revealed the evening’s itenerary, we’re gonna play some new songs and the songs you love, were gonna play for like two hours. “Songs you love,” were next as within seconds, Adams would kick into a wonderful rendition of Oasis Wonderwall.
From then on, the show was half concert, half comedic routine – Adams and Co. made it fairly clear from the onset that the whole superficial audience/performer barricade was to be forgotten. He elaborated that he had recently seen Slayer in concert and could not understand how Tom Araya never seemed to run out breath until “uncovering” information that the singers dad was a SCUBA instructor. With his discovery out in the open, Adams left little time for analyzing before kicking off another Cardinology tune, Magick.
Add further topics discussing intermissions, KISS, and unicorns to Adams quirky awkward demeanor and the band’s interaction with one another and the audience, and the show played out like a funny film. Asking questions like, What chord does this fucking song start on? and making statements like, Im terrified, weve never played this one, laughter seemed ever-present. It is always fun to see some of the people you idolize or revere acting like human beings, in particular really funny human beings, especially in a scenario when youd least likely expect it. Ryan Adams does not take himself seriously, which, when juxtaposed with the very sentimental subject of his songs, makes his behavior even more peculiarly amusing.
The set continued on with dozens of crowd pleasing classics, including Come Pick Me Up, the darkest and heaviest Bartering Lines imaginable, a gorgeous Let it Ride, and a prefect Magnolia Mountain. During most of the lengthy set, surely more than a few could be found questioning whether it was Ryan Adams & The Cardinals on stage, or the latest incarnation of Neil Young & Crazy Horse. The powerful electric renditions of the gentlest Ryan Adams’ songs were performed flawlessly with a great deal of energy, as if destined to be played in this fashion. The set was not performed verbatim either, with each song turning into a distorted jam, before returning and ending, ultimately proving not only to be well-chosen, but unpredictable.
In a characteristic Ryan Adams manner, the singer/songwriter chose to close out the evening with Easy Plateau which considering its beautiful harmony laden folk sounds, appeared in interesting choice at first. But by the time peaceful harmonies gave way to folk/rocks answer to shoegaze about half-way through, it was clear the performance was all according to plan. As distorted electric guitars overwhelmed all else, Adams began detuning his guitar while repeatedly screaming I want and easy plateau into the mic, with an intense reverb effect echoing the yelps. Behind the increasingly chaotic pounds of drummer Brad Pemberton, the song winded down and the Cards left the stage. If I could pick any song that would turn into a Sonic Youth inspired wall of noise, it would definitely not be this one.
Fans were fairly certain that there would be no encore, but as expected still pushed for one, even as the audience lights began to turn on. Surprisingly, the claps and cheers were answered as the band came out for a lovely rendition of Dear John, before exiting the stage. Adams was last to leave, mumbling a lengthy thank you and good-bye, before leaving stage for the final time.
If The Cardinals demonstrated anything at the Egg on Friday night, it was that even with light-hearted candor and “never know what you’re going to get” style, the Ryan Adams led outfit knows how to fulfill an evening, live up to expectations, and ultimately, put on a performance that would make most other bands jealous. It was everything Adams & The Cardinals could be, which for a group with such potential says a lot. By show’s end, it became quite clear why Adams is so stuck up on dropping his name and becoming just one of “The Cardinals.” Talent is just the begining of what the outfit has to offer.
“The Sun Also Sets”
“Natural Ghost” (Live)
“Come Pick Me Up” (Live)
Crossed Out Name
Let it Ride
Come Pick Me Up
When Stars Go Blue
Why Do They Leave?
The Sun Also Sets
I’m Not A Robot (Improv)
Shakedown on 9th Street
Pictures via Foggy…