Coming into town to perform at the Michigan Theater as part of a
small-gig tour promoting his latest album, Rock ‘n Roll,
Ryan Adams is still not widely known. All too often, in
conversation, Ryan will be confused with Bryan Adams, the Adams of
our parent’s generation. Yet, as annoying as the confusion can be,
Ryan Adams could quite easily become the “Adams” of our generation.
It takes a lot of talent to be able to perform in front of capacity
crowds day in and day out. It takes even more talent to be able to
do this while sick with a bad case of the flu and after quite a
number of alcoholic beverages. After his show at the Michigan
Theater last Thursday, many could say Ryan Adams is a talented
man.

Todd Weiser
Courtesy of Lost Highway

Never allowing the high to end until the last song seemed to be
Adams’ goal through the night, as each song melded into the next
nearly seamlessly with very few interludes. Sucking down any liquid
in sight, Adams’ was nearly frantic at times, caught up in the
music and playing the hell out of his guitar. He slammed out of the
second song of the show, “This Is It,” with a near fervor pace and
never quite left that drive. At one point during his set, Adams
played “Wish You Were Here” three times in a row, with the first
two times sounding eerily similar (read: he played it the exact
same both times) and the third being a sped-up punk rendition which
brought a huge reaction from the crowd.

Adams couldn’t even be stopped to light his own cigarette,
bumming them from band members who would light them as he would
play. Prowling the stage with his guitar, he was a walking wrecking
ball, keeping stage crews on edge constantly as near collisions
with equipment came with every movement the singer made. Throughout
the set, Adams knocked over mic stands and band members, dragged
chords into tangled messes, fell on his ass and accidentally
unplugged his equipment numerous times, all with a smile on his
face and a happily-entertained crowd absorbing his every move.

Playing a wide assortment from his catalog that reaches from
love’s bitterness to youthful inhibitions, Adams’ performance could
be best summarized in his encore. Running back onstage to push as
many songs through as he could before the 11 p.m. curfew, Adams
seemed apologetic for the mere minute he was offstage and promised
to get through as many songs as he could, as if the night had not
been an onslaught of more than 20 songs already.

Silencing the crowd with a harmonica and acoustic guitar, Adams
stood alone onstage and slowly worked his way into the soulful
“Come Pick Me Up.” In one verse, the lyrics ask a woman to “screw
all his friends [because] they’re all full of shit,” the latter
coming with a middle finger to his band on stage left. It was this
carefree demeanor, acted out during a truly powerful song, which
characterized the show. Pulling the band out for the final two
songs, Adams ditched the guitar and spilled into the crowd, the
audience loving every minute they had with him.

Drunk. Sick. High. Whatever. It didn’t matter. Ryan Adams put on
a performance at the Michigan Theater that was anything but
disappointing. Driven by the energy and excitement of an ever-moody
man who finally seems to be happy with the way things are, the show
was an exhibition of all that is rock ‘n’ roll.

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