...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Ryan Adams: No Quality Control and Can't Edit Himself, Part 18"

So I made the journey to San Francisco and back and my head is still spinning. In town for less than 24 hours, I spent twice as much time seeing Ryan than I did sleeping. What a lucky gal.

Thursday night I got to see Ryan Adams for the first time and it was different, perhaps, than I expected – a lot more “free form?” – but pretty dang phenomenal. The Palace of Fine Arts was a fantastic place to see a show, I’d never been there before. It was an intimate venue and Ryan was in chatty form. I hear that Wednesday night was variable quality (as Ryan said Thursday, “Look, it’s no secret that I’m, like, doing that great tightrope walk between suck and maybe good…”). I thought Thursday was rambling but good.

I loved the solo acoustic interpretations, and a fine, fine setlist. And, yes, it was mostly true what my new pal Nathan said, "You'll probably find all the chatter endearing." The overall feel was a mix of sitting in Ryan's living room and listening to some sort of stream-of-consciousness interview.

Interesting comment from someone over on the Ryan Adams Archive site, which the more I read over, the more I think is a valid point: "The upside, if you were in the mood for it, was a very personal / intimate hangin' out with Ryan thing where we (the audience) were both therapist and entertainer for him – as well as being entertained by him. The downside was that we got too few songs and very few sung without interruptions of patter or joking that somewhat broke or (imho) belittled the emotional intensity & spell of the piece. Came away wanting to worship him and slap him upside the head at the same time. You are probably thinking ‘what else is new?’. I know most of our heroes have feet of clay – the artistic cauldron – inspired madness and all that - I just wish he would respect his own gifts more and honor this amazing music that comes through him."

I was able to record the Palace of Fine Arts show, so you can hear it too. I was pretty impressed at how the sound quality turned out for just being recorded on a little $60 digital voice recorder thingie. (Maybe I am impressed because my audio-technology-knowhow falls somewhere on the scale between that of a box of dirt and pet gerbil). Hence it is far from perfect quality, but for those of you that were there, you can relive the set, and for those that weren’t, you can hear all the chatter and two new songs (and the occasional guffaw that I let out, even though I tried to keep my mouth shut. I have a hard time with that. Just ignore me and my friends' chatter. Sincere apologies.)

Oh, so we’ll call this “Set One:”

PALACE OF FINE ARTS SET (Zip file link at end of setlist)
Brown Sugar & Why Do They Leave? (forgot to break this into two tracks)
Sweet Lil Gal (23rd and 1st)
Banter 1 & 2
Strawberry Wine
Banter 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 (I kept starting recording, thinking a song was coming. But nope.)
Don't Get Sentimental On Me (new)
Blue Hotel (new)
"I Want It That Way" (Ryan is fixin to join the Backstreet Boys if this whole solo thing doesn't work out)
Please Do Not Let Me Go
Banter 7
New York, New York
Come Pick Me Up
Rescue Blues
Banter 8
Magnolia Mountain
Banter 9 & 10
(teaser) Oh My Sweet Carolina? In My Time Of Need?
Solitaire (w/ Jesse Malin)
Peaceful Valley


Following the Palace of Fine Arts show, my friend Julia and I jetted on over to 12 Galaxies club. After stashing our cars in an alley by her apartment, we walked hastily to the club, nervous and excited because Ryan was playing a “Set Two” with Phil Lesh from the Grateful Dead. A mere $5 cover, all going to charity (supporting the cause of organ donation – they can have mine, not sure if they want my liver).

I hear everyone (who was over 21) who was waiting outside got in, which was great because there was a massive line and I wasn’t sure if all the cool kids in the back made it in for an incredible show.

I was maybe the 15th person in the door, and headed right to the front. I was literally about 5 feet from Ryan when he came on stage. It was an absolutely amazing vantage point, to see every scowl and chord and smile and interaction on stage.

Ryan seemed like a completely different person for Set Two - engaged, on fire, sharp, musically adventurous, and basically just enjoying himself - and loving the music. He and Phil even kissed once, ain't that sweet.

I am far from being a Dead fan, but of all the times I wish I had known a lyric, this was it: Ryan blanks on a verse to one of the Dead songs and leans down front to me and asks "Do you know it?" holding out his hand to me. Uhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . nope. Damn. But later on when he forgot one of his own lyrics, he asked again, and this time my fabulous cohorts jumped up to the plate with the needed memory jog, and he carried on with the verse. So fun what can happen in such an intimate little place.

The version of "Cold Roses" was INSANELY jamming, I was mesmerized by the opening riff and how intricate the guitar fingerwork was. And by "Shakedown on 9th Street," we were all pretty much hoarse from yelling along. "Luuucy, lucy my gal...." "What Sin" was so stretched out into these mega-jams that I almost didn't recognize it. And "I Still Miss Someone" was jammy, electric and rockin like I have never heard it before; I think Johnny Cash would have just shook his head, but probably appreciated the passion behind it.

12 Galaxies Setlist (“Set Two”)
Not Fade Away
Dark Star
Help On The Way
Magnolia Mountain
He's Gone
Stella Blue
What Sin Replaces Love
Wharf Rat > Not Fade Away

Dire Wolf
A Kiss Before I Go
Dire Wolf (cut off)
China Cat (instrumental, cut off)
Cold Roses
Shakedown on 9th Street
Not Fade Away
I Still Miss Someone
Cold Roses

I don't have anything from the second set, I was dancing too much to record (and fending off weird Deadheads who kept sweating on me).

Video clips from the 12 Galaxies set:
Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

We were discussing amongst ourselves in the audience who the kickass drummer was, sporting the Nirvana t-shirt, watching the guys for cues of where they were going in the jam. The story of how local San Franciscan drummer Chad Tasky got the gig with these two is a fan's dream come true:

"i was at the ryan adams solo shows this past wednesday and thursday at the palace of fine arts in san francisco. my buddy robie and i are hanging out backstage when ryan shows up and says that he needs a drum kit so that his producer jamie can sit in on drums during the encore along with phil lesh - who is also scheduled to play during the encore. i graciously offer to rent them a set of my drums for the show, then race down to pick them up. ryan played... then ryan, phil, and jamie played the encore... then i went home.

upon arriving the next evening to watch the show then pick up my drums - i'm informed there's been a secret benefit show scheduled for after the show at a small club in the mission district called 12 galaxies, and that i've been chosen to play drums. having the imaginary courage that i needed, i proceeded to play to a sold-out crowd with ryan, phil and a guitar-tech named harry for over two hours. the setlist was filled with dead songs ands ryan's songs - which i did my best to pretend to know. what a crazy night. check out video and photos from the show."

Man alive.

The whole night was so sweaty and rocking and mindblowingly fun that I felt like I needed to roll over and have a cigarette afterwards. And I don’t even smoke.

But it was that satisfying.

Thanks to Sherry for some of the pics (and loaning me her camera so I could take a few of these) and Sharif, who rocks. Also, check out this savage set of pictures on Flickr (and if you look at the one below, that is SO my arm on the left side of the shot. I am a geek, I know).

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At April 29, 2006 6:19 PM, Blogger macbeths said...

Thanks so much for the Mp3's! With all the Ryan bashers out there, it's soooo nice to hear positive folks reviewing his shows. We've been lucky to catch Ryan with Phil & Friends everytime he's joined him - they really love and respect each other, not to mention JAM! I'd be more than happy to get you the shows if you're intested...

At April 29, 2006 6:27 PM, Blogger heather said...

Macbeths, yeah, I'd love the set from Thursday night if you can get it, you didn't leave an email addy so I hope you check here! thank you!

At April 29, 2006 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm envious. Sounds like it was a rocking time! Thanks for sharing the mp3s as well as your experience. Wish I could've been there...Here's hoping Ryan visits somewhere near me sometime soon...

At April 29, 2006 10:46 PM, Blogger krissy said...

Heather -- thanks for your comment and link on SFist. And thanks for the mp3s!

At April 30, 2006 1:00 AM, Blogger craiye said...

Lucky you! i really hope Ryan comes near me.

Here's to hoping the Ryan bashers don't invade your site. They did on my last post about him.

At April 30, 2006 6:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two gigs in one night - I had a feeling you were gonna be lucky!

My view is that Ryan is honest and does not have any fake sincerity - however you get him on the night is the real him. It is difficult to explain one of his acoustic shows, you just have to go.

Sounds like a great set and the jam afterwards sounds a hoot. You lucky girl.

Chris (Tottngton UK)

At April 30, 2006 10:25 AM, Anonymous jennings said...

Once more, I have to say that you continue to kick ass.

At April 30, 2006 11:28 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Did I mention that I'm grateful for the MP3s? haha

At April 30, 2006 1:15 PM, Blogger wwjblog said...

heather is cooler than most. take that, most! thanks 4 the mp3s!

At April 30, 2006 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Immense thanks for this post. I, too, love Ryan and his gentle presence on stage.

Your blog is a gold mine and I've been ravishing it for the last hour.

Love your Buckley post. I was in tears momentarily.

At April 30, 2006 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Heather. I was fortunate enough to be at both shows as well (my hand is showing in one of the flicker photos too -ha). The mp3's are a great keepsake and not bad Q for what you where working with. my review and take on the dead/ryan thing here if anyone cares for another;

At April 30, 2006 4:57 PM, Blogger F.J. Delgado said...

awesome post, thanks a ton for the MP3's!

Ryan Adams is one of my favorites, and I'm disappointed I've never been able to catch him live.

At May 01, 2006 7:00 AM, Blogger Ambidextrist said...

Heather--As always, you're an inspiration. Thanks for helping to start my Monday out on a good note. I'm afraid the rest of the week is going to be crap after this...Stay fierce. Russ

At May 01, 2006 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and thanks for the mp3s. I was hoping to get my hands on Ryan's version of "Brown Sugar" from the Thursday night show.

- Harpy

At May 01, 2006 3:16 PM, Blogger Sherry said...

heather, awesome write up of the show! love the MP3s... ah, brings back memories :)

btw, i did some shuffling of my photo albums, so HERE is where you can get the rest of my photos from the tour... enjoy!

oh - and you can totally see me in that last photo... i'm the one who looks completely mesmerized by Ryan in the red shirt and white sweater, standing next to your arm :)


At May 01, 2006 6:25 PM, Blogger Ekko said...

Ryan Adams is vile. I used to love him, but he treats his fans like shit.

Imagine going to prison for 11 years for what you just posted.

Ryan seems to have no problem with that.

he's vile.

At May 01, 2006 6:32 PM, Blogger heather said...

Mr. Ekko,

Next time, please comment in the form of a limerick, since your limericks are so splendid.

I was also upset by the Ryan Adams prosecution, but I wonder how much he as an artist had to do with the decision, and how much his label, his management, and the federal agents who prosecuted the case had to do with it. Plus, these tracks are live, and it is quoted by his management on the Live Music Archive:

"Ryan doesn’t mind if live recordings make it up on sites as long as no money is changing hands…you know he allows anyone to plug into the board and record. Keep it fun and free and I think we are all ok with it."

So, since these are live, I hope I will stay out of jail. But I am more cautious now, certainly, than I was before. I think we all are.

At May 01, 2006 9:16 PM, Blogger heather said...

And Ekko wrote back:

Ryan Adams has had every chance
To tell his label to take a different stance
But instead he does ignore
The fans who do adore
An artist in control of this circumstance

At May 02, 2006 12:13 AM, Blogger cakegrrl said...

Thanks so much for the MP3s... I thoroughly enjoyed both shows so much!

At May 16, 2006 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, This is Ryan Adams.
I am in the studio mixing the new Willie Nelson record. I have no control over the federal government or whom they wish to prosecute. I wish I did. There isnt fuck all I can say or do.

At May 19, 2006 12:56 PM, Blogger the mule said...

Heather, during the last bit of banter just prior to 'sentimental' some dude hollers out something about a 'microphone' and follows it with 'shut up'. To be more specific, it's "Banter 6" at 19 sec. So what was that about?

At May 19, 2006 1:17 PM, Blogger heather said...

mule, it was some guy down front, I think he said, "If you don't have the microphone, shut up. Let him pay to come see you." He got a little feisty with the conversational aspect of the show, I guess.

At May 19, 2006 1:36 PM, Blogger the mule said...

oHHHH- Thanks, that makes more sense than what I was thinking he said. I'm at work and can only have the volume so high before somebody notices life in another office and comes seeking me out (typing in a whisper).

At May 19, 2006 1:44 PM, Blogger heather said...

mule, the WORST thing when you are at work is when you, say, had the speakers up for something and you are visiting a DAMN WEBSITE WITH MUSIC ON IT and it starts playing really loud before you can turn it down. I hate that, why do people do that on a website? Also, greeting cards or emails with obnoxious sound effects. Just terrible, really. :)


At October 16, 2006 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know who Ryan Adam was before seeing him at the Hollywood Bowl on 9/10/2006. There was a single song that stood out that I have been trying to identify by reading through all the Ryan Adam song lyrics and listening via Rhapsody. Someone's posting of the setlist finally helped me.. it took work.... but it was Blue Hotel.. and it wasn't acoustic... it was awesome with the band behind him... I'm now a Ryan Adams fan... Ryan, put Blue Hotel, done like the Hollywood Bowl version, on a CD for us... - Art in So. Cal. Ry

At May 10, 2007 6:18 AM, Anonymous defanie said...

hey there....love your blog (LOVE everyone that adores Ryan that much :p). thanks so much for the mp3s.

i've only been a fan of ryan for like a year, and it's been a blast. i'm sooo in love with his voice.... i know a lot of people hate him and stuff, but it's their lost really....

keep up the good work!

At September 25, 2007 9:59 PM, Blogger stellarmusings said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At September 25, 2007 10:06 PM, Blogger stellarmusings said...

Hi. Nice blog. I'm a fan of Ryan Adams' music too. Anyway I came across this live set he played for Nissan (I think) on youtube. I think it's a nice way to get non-ryan fans to listen to his music. It's so much more alt-country and radio-friendly than his studio cuts. Check it out at


along with other live Adams tracks I ripped from the net.



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