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

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ryan Adams melts the collective face of Santa Cruz

Ryan Adams was back in fine form last night in Santa Cruz, playing a relentless three-hour electric set and rocking the plaid pants and a Celtic Frost t-shirt. The show at the Catalyst Club was general admission, so I was most excited about this show (the other ones to come this week are all seats); my favorite kind of show energy comes from a packed-in standing audience.

I knew it was going to be a good night when we ducked into the club bar hours before doors to use the restroom. Thanks to our fearless reconaissance, we got back into the stage section and were able to see part of the soundcheck before a member of our contingent got the willies about being caught and we scampered out -- we saw mostly noodling and some of Cold Roses. But it was clear even from what we saw that Ryan was loose and happy and in fine form and we were stoked for the show.

The show was so long and my company so lovely that I am having some trouble remembering the setlist, but highlights for me included an absolutely scorching, riveting, insane version of "I See Monsters" (if I need one mp3 from this whole show, it's gotta be that one), "Dear Chicago," "Please Do Not Let Me Go,"and I think "Let It Ride" all the way at the end (to the point, well-done, never get tired of that song). I couldn't hear the banter, but according to someone else he "played a 5 second song about Teen Wolf (why are you so sad?), joked about Neil's fancy pants and cracked a few Matlock jokes (always on time)."

A picture of the setlist had some awesome titles included like Ming Dynasty, Egyptology, Beautiful Sorta Mellow Yellow, and Frozen By The Naked Witches (I am so not making this up) but the set we actually got sounded like this:

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals
2007-07-21 The Catalyst
Santa Cruz, CA

On our way over the hill to the show, we were discussing what era Ryan was our favorite, and what kind of show we wish we could have seen in incarnations of years past. The three of us in the car were apparently all rockers at heart, and the consensus went back and forth between Love Is Hell, Rock N Roll and Demolition if we had to pick just one era to see live.

On the way home my muddled mind was going over the show as I watched the yellow divider lines on the highway flick past, and I felt satisfied with the set because it was kinda the rocker Ryan coming back out in the jam-country he's favoring lately, if that makes sense. He was on it, in his element. Playing that electric guitar with reverence and fire. Even though there were some prolonged jams, which (last night at least) I lack the attention span for, he took the rocker vibe, blended it heavy in with the Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights material, and just let it ride all night long.

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At July 22, 2007 10:19 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Personally, I vote for 2000-2001 when Whiskeytown was in its final stages and Ryan was out on the road with Chuck Prophet & Kim Richey.

I saw WT play the Cat's Cradle on New Year's Eve in 1999. It was a great way to spend Y2K.

At July 22, 2007 11:55 PM, Blogger rustafarian said...

here she is...

At July 23, 2007 2:44 AM, Anonymous lism. said...

He's coming back to Glasgow in December. Hurrah!

At July 23, 2007 3:07 AM, Blogger Ament said...

Hmm mine would be more recently 2005-2006...

2005/06/03 - Northern Lights, Clifton Park, New York and 2006/10/11 - Rockefeller, Oslo, Norway were both amazing shows with insane setlists....plus that three night stint at NY Town hall was pretty damn cool

and on the subject of Ryan I think you might like this guy: http://www.myspace.com/rockyvotolato
one of the best albums I've bought this year

At July 23, 2007 7:27 AM, Anonymous lewislfowler said...

i still say my favorite ryan era was "the sweetheart revolution" times of late-2001, early-2002. great setlist. rockin songs. not as jammy as today. but definitely more upbeat and fun than the "heartbreaker" stuff (not that thats not great). anyway, the sweetheart revolution was playing the stuff off "Gold," but also alot of the stuff that later came out on "Demolition" or didn't come out at all. just check out some of these setlists on answeringbell.com

At July 23, 2007 7:42 AM, Blogger lbc said...

I don't why people slam Rock N Roll. I love that record, it feeds my impression of the NY downtown scene in the waning days of the post-9/11 Strokes era. Actually I slammed Rock N Roll when it first came out because it wasn't Love is Hell, but it has grown and grown on me in the years since. Love Burning Photographs and The Drugs Not Working.

Anyway, sounds like a great show at the Catalyst Club, glad you saw him recharged.

At July 23, 2007 8:18 AM, Anonymous Dave said...

ah that's too bad the Santa Cruz show is one of those rock shows and the SF show isn't gonna be one.

Regardless, this gets me kinda excited to see it and I hope my recording comes out okay.

At July 25, 2007 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw the Berkeley show last night and wasn't impressed. Too many repetitious, jam songs that sound like he and the band are just robots fed punch cards with the notes to every rock'n'roll, bluegrass, country, Grateful Dead song and then asked to spit it back out again. Nothing particularly wrong with the songs or the performance except a distinct lack of any soul or humanity or credibility. Too many songs that sounded exactly alike strung together one after another. By the time he did decide to pick up the pace a little, it was too late. The Berkeley crowd seemed asleep, proven by the occasional belligerent shouts that were less like encouragement than simply a means to ward off drowsiness. The sound was muddy and silibant at the same time. No encore. No enthusiasm. Couple this one with the meandering mess of the Palace of Fine Arts show and I'm done. Ultimately, I've never liked the Grateful Dead and that's what Ryan seems intent on becoming. I have no energy to buy album after album packed with filler to root out the one or two good songs. Until there is a Whiskeytown reunion, I'm done.

At July 25, 2007 4:31 PM, Blogger Laura said...

"Nothing particularly wrong with the songs or the performance except a distinct lack of any soul or humanity or credibility."

wow, I couldn't disagree more...I guess it's a good thing for the true fans that you'll be avoiding his shows in the future.

In my book, it was the best RA show I've seen so far, and I've seen a lot. The band was grooving together, Ryan was in great spirits, and it was a stellar show.

Wish I'd had the chance to meet up, Heather!



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