Sometimes you just get really lucky. I mean really lucky. Tuesday night was one of those nights for me. I had planned to be in London for a work conference and had to make it a quick trip. London is a great place to travel for work and to stay longer than the absolute minimum amount of time required raises eyebrows at the home office. So, I flew into London late Monday night, did a full day of said conference on Tuesday and a half day on Wednesday and flew out that night. In between I saw Ryan Adams play one of the best concerts of his career.
I’ve seen Adams play concerts several times over the years. I’ve seen the troubadour, the drunkard, they jerk and the charmer – sometimes all in the same set. Tuesday night I just saw a guy who has written an incredible treasury of songs that was backed by a band that delivered them in spades. Backed by among others, Benmont Tench (keys), Don Was (bass) and Ethan Johns (guitar), Adams plowed through nearly two hours of highlights of his catalog. From Heartbreaker through to Ashes and Fire he played his best slow and mid-tempo of his songs. While the rocker in me would have loved to see him throw in a few more fuzzed-out jams from his albums, the setting of the astoundingly beautiful Royal Albert Hall lent itself beautifully to the music.
Adams and his band were in great form; however, the most striking part of the whole experience was the sound in the hall. From my seat in “the stalls,” the sound was immaculate. Absolutely crystal clear and warm. I’ll admit that due to a long day on my feet at a trade show, a huge fish ‘n chips dinner prior show and a few cask pulled lagers, the show exists in my memory more as a feeling. Sure, I remember details including the funny between song banter but the show itself was start to finish enjoyable. It was like settling in for a long ride through beautiful countryside while not having the slightest clue where you were headed. In fact, now that I mention it, at the beginning Adams said, “I know most of you aren’t used to hearing music this fast, so put on your racing helmets.” Maybe it wasn’t so much about the speed as the journey. All I know is I saw a man and his band on the top of their game. Let it ride, indeed.