By: Ross Adams
Ryan Adams made his way to the Carolinas on Tuesday night at The Performing Arts Center in Charleston, S.C. with his band The Shining. This was Adams’ closest performance to his home state of North Carolina since 2009 when he played the same venue in Charleston, with his then band, The Cardinals. Adams’ roots started in Jacksonville, N.C. and led to Raleigh, where he made a name for himself with the band Whiskeytown, now he seems to toy with North Carolina fans that beg for him to come back to his home state by coming so close, but yet so far from Raleigh.
Adams started the evening with “Gimme Something Good,” a song from his latest self-titled album that was released in 2014. The ringing reverb from the electric guitars was a perfect way to start an evening, which had so many fans restless with anticipation. His stage setup was something out of Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps, with giant amplifier stage props, a peace symbol American flag and Adams’ vintage arcade games, which Adams admitted himself was part of his “extreme nerdiness.”
Adams continued through the evening with a beautiful set, including turning “Dirty Rain,” a quiet, peaceful song from his album Ashes and Fire, into a heavier distorted version to install into the audience’s minds, that we aren’t just hearing Adams Adams through our stereo, but he’s improvising with his band right in front of our eyes and ears.
The show continued into one of my favorite and particularly depressing songs, “Dear Chicago,” an elegant guitar-riff-led song that creates beautiful sounds around dark poetic words, pointing towards Adams landing one of the largest cities in America in New York City and moving on to conquering another huge skyline of Chicago.
Adams then moved to the far stage right with his classic Buck Owen’s striped guitar, and made his way to an illuminated microphone stand that shined so perfectly in your eyes with crisp white lights that Adams’s song “Winding Wheel” felt like it was sung from a sensitive poetic shadow that covered the audience’s ears with mere perfection.
As Adams made his way through his personally deep songs, one song stood out in the mix, a song from his first solo record Heartbreaker — which was “To Be Young, (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)” a song that hasn’t been played live by Adams since 2011 — and a song that has never been played with his new band The Shining. Adams made a Back to the Future reference before the song, stating “this song is an oldie, it’s in the key of G, watch for the changes, and try to keep up,” then continuing into the Johnny B. Goode guitar riff, It was a definite crowd-pleaser for the obsessed Ryan Adams’ fan.
Although it’s a mysterious story when it comes to Adams and his hometown, Adams never shies away from letting people know where he is from in his songwriting, he continued by talking about his father being at the show and singing “The End” which is a song off the album Jacksonville City Nights about his childhood in Jacksonville, N.C.
Adams proceeded later in the set by bringing the opening act of the evening Jenny Lewis, a folk, americana singer/songwriter from California, to sing “Sweet Carolina,” a song off of the album Heartbreaker, and a Carolina treasure. It’s always a pleasure to see Adams live and in full form, his shows are magical and can go from a solid rock song with the band to a sensitive love song with him, his acoustic guitar and harmonica.
Adams concluded the evening with flowing through “New York, New York” and ending the show with the song “Come Pick Me Up,” a song that reveals the struggle of love and relationships. Adams impresses me with his constant change in sound, but yet still manages to shine in his amazing songwriting. Adams continues his 2015 tour with his band The Shining throughout The United States, before heading overseas during the Summer.