Ryan Adams : London Brixton Academy

Ryan Adams is in mischievous mood...

He bounds onstage, to [a]Ellis-Sophie Bextor[/a]’s ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’, like an amphetamine-charged puppy. He launches into a feverish version of ‘Firecracker’, and tears into ‘To Be Young…’ like a man possessed. It’s fantastic, fresh, and totally rock’n’roll. And you can sense the irritatingly worthy alt.country purists, all misty-eyed for [a]Ryan Adams[/a]’s Whiskeytown days, shifting in their seats, readying their ‘Judas’ cat-calls. Ignore them. Magic is at large.

Then suddenly, [a]Ryan Adams[/a] is lying on his back, living out his [a]Doors[/a] fantasies, screaming how he doesn’t fucking care. His band, lurking in the shadows, jam away in a sub-[a]Doors[/a] style. This is not good. But it doesn’t matter. Every [a]Ryan Adams[/a] show is marred by this perverse need to fuck with everything he’s worked long to achieve. It’s what sets each of his shows aside from the herd, from all those too scared to buck the trends, to risk it all.

When he calms a little and begins to talk to the crowd, he riffs off themes, freewheeling between [a]So Solid Crew[/a] and [a]Celine Dion[/a], London town and rock ‘n’ roll. His tunes, lifted mostly from ‘Gold’, take on a life they miss on record. The Stax-country-soul of ‘Touch, Feel & Lose’ is blistering. ‘Rescue Blues’ is sauntering swamp-rock. And ‘Nobody Girl’ becomes a rolling, glorious epic that nudges close to the glorious burn-out of ‘Champagne Supernova’.

He still shines in his quieter moments. When he does ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’ it’s obvious that when he wants he can do quiet, sad alt.country better than anyone. But this is not the sound of some alt.country troubadour. [a]Ryan Adams[/a] is not content remaining the Americana posterboy. Ideas spill out of him. Even though he doesn’t play a [a]Strokes[/a] cover tonight, the thought of him jiggering with their expectations is too much for the purists; a couple of shouts of Judas follow. He laughs. And then, [a]Oasis[/a] appears from the wings, and joins him in a show-closing blast of ‘Morning Glory’.

Right now, [a]Ryan Adams[/a] is the single most important song and dance man in the world. Be glad he has the vision and the tunes to keep on keeping on.

Paul McNamee