Ryan Adams

support Natalie "SAS"
author MN date 10/03/15 venue Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, DEN

I first discovered Ryan Adams by chance back in 2008 when a rendition of his heartbreaker track "When The Stars Go Blue" was delicately performed by a classmate of mine in an acoustic setting, thereby sparking a somewhat furious infatuation on my part. Formerly not a big fan of the common singer/songwriter painstaking mushy sensitivity, Ryan Adams had my conservative mindset altered from the beginning. There is just something extremely unique about his character, songwriting, which has led me to consider him to be one of the most prolific songwriters of our time, standing next to or at the least one step below on the pedestals with legends such as Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen and the king of folk, Bob Dylan. This evening's performance takes place in Falkoner Salen, another venue that I only once before have graced, but then to mass dissapointment. As I walk into the hotel lobby in which the venue is connected, the crowd constitue a mix blend of bearded hipsters and oldtimers, along with the occasional rocknroller type, an eclectic mix showcasing Ryan Adam's mass appeal. As the clock ticks 20:30, we are ready to welcome Natalie Prass to the stage, but certain unforeseeable circumstances quickly changes the night into something somewhat unusual, yet extremely heartwarming. My colleague Tim will now fill you in on the opening acts peculiarities.

All photos courtesy of troest.nu

Natalie "SAS"

The support for Ryan Adams this evening was meant to be Natalie Prass, a songwriter from Virgina whose very pleasantly sounding self-titled album was released earlier this year. Instead of her however, it's Adams' Danish drummer Freddie Bokkenheuser that comes on stage, explaining that due to a disagreement with a SAS employee in Ireland, Prass was not allowed on her flight to Copenhagen, yet in sympathy with her, the crew has been able to find someone - a "Natalie Sass" - who could play all her songs in her stead.

By warning the crowd to turn off all lights on their phones and cameras however, Bokkenheuser gives away the surprise: Out comes Ryan Adams. In a dress. And accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar and by keyboardist Daniel Clarke, the headliner proceeds to give skillfully finger-picked renditions of "Birds Of Prey", "My Baby Don't Understand Me", "Your Fool", "It Is You" and "Violently", casually joking along the way that 'she' is usually much prettier, and that "My Baby Don't Understand Me" was written because 'she' was speaking Elvish at the time.

While Adams' impersonation of Prass is obviously humorous, his performance of the songs is done with a tenderness and a careful lyrical delivery that shows that we here have a headliner who is very much a fan of his supporting act. On occasion it's clear that Prass' songs are written with a wider vocal range in mind, but Adams expertly allows his own voice to break against his upper boundary, giving the performance a raw, intimate feeling. The audience is on to the specialness of the spectacle right away, watching in dead silence whenever they're not laughing at one of the between song jokes, and overall Adams does as well as the circumstances allow, at giving us a reason to seek out Prass' album at home. Grading his effort is sort of a pointless exercise, but for the sake of our site's archive, let's observe that on one hand it's impressive for Adam's to know and sing Prass' set in advance of his own already lengthy one, but at the same time, listening to Prass on record it's hard to not still be a bit disappointed that we didn't get to hear her own, very delicate voice and tasteful arrangements performed to tonight's very welcoming and politely listening audience.

Ryan Adams

Having already been introduced to "Mr." Adams in his androgynous varietal, the anticipation is somewhat dampened, yet with an athmospherical sense of satisfaction. Little under 20 minutes upon ending the Natalie Sass session, the band begins to enter the stage to the tasty riff of "Gimme Something Good" from the latest eponymous record "Ryan Adams". The stage is peculiarly decorated by two- monstrous amps and one of them is flanked by two retro arcade game boxes, topped by a wooden cat gazing upon the audience. The lights stay comfortably warm and focused upon the band with no eclectic flashes or neon lights lashed upon the audience, perhaps a decision resulting from Mr. Adams' annoyance with flashing lights. This proves to be completely befitting as his country-infused tracks demand an honest setting without superfluous aesthetics.

The hitparade continues on with songs like "Stay With Me" and the gorgeous acoustic track "Dear Chicago" brings warmth and intimacy making Falconer Salen seem like a much smaller stage. "This House Is Not For Sale" has the audience occasionally singing a long. What clearly astounds me is that Ryan Adams set sparks so much respect from the audience (at least at the segment where I am standing) that even the drop of a coin or the flattening of the beer cups can be heard with distinction. People are clearly here to meticulously listen to tonight's performer. Ryan Adams even chooses to complement the audience for being the most polite he has witnessed on this tour. "My Winding Wheel" is performed to swaying bodies and falling eyelids, a real serenader, but with that Dylanesque folksy tone that brings a degree of 60's nostalgia to mind. "Magnolia Mountain" from Adams' Cardinals days is warmly received and expertly performed where the musicianship of his fellow members are allowed to unfold. The ultimate Adam's hit must be "New York, New York" which was somewhat annoyingly slowly unleashed onto the audience, in a somewhat lukewarm rendition. Clearly one of the only downsides to an otherwise brilliant performance thus far.

Things are however put back in order upon the performance of the Cardinal-era track "Peaceful Valley" which is performed to a backdrop of visual starlight causing a sense of infinity to the aesthetics. This along with the dessert-red glow of the lights and the obvious psych-rock influences really feels like a relived Woodstock performance. Things are eventually turned down once again with the trio of tracks "I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say", "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and crowd pleaser "La Cienega Just Smiled". It is only at this point that one starts to miss the more raucous version of Ryan Adams, where songs like "Magic" and "Users" easily could have supplied some rawness to the largely intimate tracks featured on the setlist. Ending his set with "I See Monsters" and "Come Pick Me Up" we are lucky to have witnessed more than two hours of Adam's presence, albeit in two different versions. There can be no doubt that this performance is one that will be etched in my memory for years to come, a true performer and perfectionist one at that. The sound calibration was to my experience second-to-none and the banter was as funny and eccentric as expected. Mr. Adams should always be welcome to return, as he has done plenty of times before.

Setlist:

  • 1. Gimme Something Good
  • 2. Let It Ride
  • 3. Stay With Me
  • 4. Dirty Rain
  • 5. Dear Chicago
  • 6. This House Is Not For Sale
  • 7. Everybody Knows
  • 8. My Winding Wheel
  • 9. Magnolia Mountain
  • 10. New York, New York
  • 11. Kim
  • 12. Peaceful Valley
  • 13. Two
  • 14. Blue Light
  • 15. I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say
  • 16. Oh My Sweet Carolina
  • 17. La Cienega Just Smiled
  • 18. Trouble
  • 19. When the Stars Go Blue
  • 20. I See Monsters

Encore:

  • 21. Come Pick Me Up

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