I Would’ve Rather Seen Bryan

Last night some friends and I saw the up-and-coming singer/songwriter Ryan Adams. I (and several of my friends) am sorry I went. This is what I posted to the Ryan Adams forum about the show:

10 Steps to Rock and Roll Success

  1. Enquire, early in the show, when a cellular phone rings in the audience, as to whether you can borrow the phone to call your booking agent to tell them “never to do this to me again”.
  2. Dismiss the song order as “the most f***ed up set list I’ve ever written”.
  3. Employ a mediocre cellist and violinist and a truly amateur guitarist. Use them sparingly and inappropriately.
  4. Rework songs so that they’re unrecognizable to the casual listener. After all, you’re an established superstar with an enormous back catalog of music to draw upon.
  5. Be a kind of caricature of a rock star. Complain about the “50 clowns” in your entourage, throw cigarettes and glasses, and touch your hair a lot.
  6. Ensure that all your songs are of the same tempo.
  7. Be petulant. Petulance always appeals to audiences. Especially Irish ones.
  8. For the encore, bring on the opening act and play one of his songs. After all, the audience has probably seen enough of you, even though you haven’t played “Come Pick Me Up” or “New York, New York”.
  9. Apologize for “f***ing sucking tonight” to the crowd on several occasions. The audience loves to hear how they’ve wasted 40 euros.
  10. Recognize that the audience is supremely privileged to see you, instead of the other way around.

This was my first Ryan Adams show, and I was ready to like him. His first two albums are quite good, if derivative. Unfortunately, he demonstrated a glaring lack of professionalism and artistry. Bob Dylan used to do that in 1964, but he ain’t Bob Dylan, and this ain’t 1964. In short, it was quite a dissapointment.

Predictably, I raised the ire of the forum, which is something of an Adams’ love-in. You can read the gory details here (I’m ‘TheFoot’).

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