Last Thursday night was the Ryan Adams and the Cardinals show at the Verizon Wireless Theater. Besides Verizon being my favorite concert venue in all of Houston, I was especially pumped to be seeing Ryan “Don’t Call me Bryan” Adams for the second time. If you’ve never heard of Ryan Adams, let me give you a little background. To say he’s eccentric is an understatement. Besides being known for releasing a ton of material (in 2005 alone he released three full albums and has since posted numerous unreleased albums on his website), he’s made the biggest news lately for his actions on stage. Adams has a tendency to be argumentative with his crowds, even going so far as to end concerts early if the crowd is talking too much or shouting out song requests. Earlier this very tour Adams canceled a concert mid-song because he was unhappy with the sound monitors on stage...not something artists typically end concerts early for. Needless to say I wasn’t quiet sure what to expect and was hoping for either a great show or a colossal meltdown and thankfully Adams didn’t let me down.
The show, to be perfectly honest, was amazing. Adams was uncharacteristically cheerful, talking playfully with the crowd and was often making fun of his bad reputation, even threatening to end the show early if we, the audience, continued to like what he was doing and applauding. At one point he even granted a request screamed out from the audience, playing a quick playful version of the dueling guitars from Freebird. From what I’ve read online it was also one of his best and longest shows this tour, playing for almost three hours with two sets and two encores.
While I’m not a fan of his more alt-country songs, Adams is at his best when the band is really rocking. Almost jam band like, the Cardinals switch effortlessly between songs, often refraining back to songs previously played that evening. You really have to see Adams and the Cardinals live to appreciate them. I originally had mixed feelings towards their music when I heard it described as alt-country. But once I started listening to bootlegs of their live shows, any reservations I might have had about listening to them disappeared. I find some of their studio albums (like 2007’s Easy Tiger) to be a little too country for my taste, but with so much output from Adams there is bound to be something for everyone.
Typically his lives shows are recorded, so hopefully someone will be posting this show pretty soon. If so, I’ll link to it here for anyone who would like to check the show out.