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Ryan Adams and the Shining: New York - 23 November 2014

Ryan Adams released one of my favorite albums of the year and it was thrilling to hear the new material at his New York show.

Ryan Adams and the Shining
City: New York
Venue: Hammerstein Ballroom
Date: 2014-11-23

When I caught Ryan Adams headlining set on the Friday evening at Newport Folk Festival earlier this year, I was stunned by his opening track "Gimme Something Good". The song may have already been released as the lead single from his 2014 self-titled album, but I hadn't heard it before that point. The song, with it's garage rock, Petty-ish vibe, was a perfect gateway drug. When the album came out later in the summer, I quickly put it on regular rotation -- so much so that it would be amongst my top three most-listened to albums this year (the other two would be First Aid Kit's Stay Gold and The Gloaming's self-titled debut). When it was announced he would be performing four shows in NYC, two acoustic nights at Carnegie Hall plus two full-band shows at the Hammerstein Ballroom, I of course had to check it out, even if I'm not very familiar with a lot of his older material.

That also means I wasn't as familiar with the random hilarious banter he tosses out between songs, but listening to him, I appreciated the oddity of the man hiding behind some scruffy locks. His comments included debating the color of a guitar in the light, The crowd also loved it, packing in close to the stage to bathe in Adams' presence. Ryan Adams has been recognized as some of Adams' strongest material in many years, and he's earned many hard-core devotees. The awesome material he performed over the two hour show was considered the finest of the bunch of NYC shows from people I talked to. The set was a bluesier mix than normal, at least in regards to the Shining's take on earlier song and it might have been because of weed. According to the Village Voice, "Adams is really into weed now (he smokes it to help with his Ménière's disease), and that's certainly altered the way he's writing and playing right now. "Magnolia Mountain" was a good example of this -- it was no longer jam-y in the ramshackle Cold Roses-era mold, but had been turned into a slow-burn, bluesier number, utilizing that humid, sweet guitar tone Adams favors on his new songs."

And that sweet tone makes the songs on his new album immensely captivating. The album ranks #26 in PopMatters' Top Albums of the Year. While I really enjoyed the older material, including "New York, New York" and "When the Stars Go Blue", I wanted the new stuff. And Adams indulged me, opening with "Gimme Something Good" again. Later, "Am I Safe" led into "My Wrecking Ball" another two stand-outs. Perhaps the only song I missed was "Feels Like Fire" but fortunately, Adams pulled out a new tune "Blue Light" (soon to be a Pax Am single) as a live debut for the crowd and noted it was inspired by the light on people's faces when they stare at their smartphones.

That explanation wasn't commentary on the crowd's behavior fortunately; the song served as a reward for the intense adoration that was shown to Adams. I may not have shown the love for him that others clearly were. But Ryan Adams is just such an amazing rock album that I am eager to indulge myself in his work, whether it be past or future, so that I can sing along to more songs at the next live show I catch.

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Ryan Adams setlist:

Gimme Something Good

Let It Ride

Dirty Rain

Blue Lights

Lucky Now

Magnolia Mountain

New York, New York


A Kiss Before I Go

Am I Safe

My Wrecking Ball

When the Stars Go Blue

Everybody Knows

My Winding Wheel

This House Is Not for Sale

I Just Might

Oh My Sweet Carolina

La Cienega Just Smiled

Crossed Out Name

I Love You but I Don't Know What to Say

Come Pick Me Up

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