Saturday, October 21 , 2017, 11:17 am | Fair 68º

 
 
 
 

Jeff Moehlis: Something Good from Ryan Adams

Prolific songwriter performs a sold-out concert at the Arlington Theatre

The highlight of the sold-out Ryan Adams concert at the Arlington Theatre last Wednesday night was born from the odd combination of a misbehaving guitar and a deliberately misheard shouted request from the audience.

The misbehaving guitar, to Adams at least, sounded like what you'd hear on a Scritti Politti record. The request was for "Chains of Love," which Adams "misheard" as "Change the Boat." He proceeded to spontaneously write a hilarious song with that title, sung with Scritti Politti falsetto and featuring disco-inspired guitar.

At the risk of reading too much into this, one could say that this quick episode tells us much about Adams. No. 1: He is super talented and super prolific, seemingly able to write a song almost as easily as he breathes. No. 2: He's a bit of a music nerd — I mean, is Scritti Politti on anyone's radar these days? No. 3: He draws inspiration from the music of the past. This isn't meant to be critical, and I won't belabor the point — it's just the way it is.

Adams is touring in support of his wonderful new self-titled album, which was featured heavily at the concert. Like the album, the show kicked off with the rocker "Gimme Something Good," and more of its songs popped up throughout the set, including the moving song "My Wrecking Ball" whose heartfelt intro was unfortunately marred by competing shouts of "Stand up!" and "Sit down!" from the audience.

Can't we all just get along?

It was also interesting to hear "Rats in the Wall" and "When the Summer Ends" from his recent super-limited-edition EP 1984, the latter of which wouldn't be out of place on a vintage Husker Du album.

Adams also drew from his vast past catalog, with some highlights being "New York, New York," "Easy Plateau" with a tripped-out guitar jam, the impossibly pretty "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and, especially, a stretched-out version of "Peaceful Valley" with a '60s vibe that called to mind the Grateful Dead at their best.

Adams chatted quite a bit between songs, usually (and playfully?) in response to some perceived annoyance like the strong smell of popcorn or a person checking the feed on their smartphone. He also mercilessly mocked an audience member who made the mistake of calling out the all-too-common request for Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" — but it was all in good fun, wasn't it?

As the evening wound down, Adams avoided the encore charade by asking the audience to pretend they walked offstage and came back after a suitable wait. He then teased the audience by playing the opening guitar part to the "Run to You" by the similarly-named Bryan Adams before cutting it off. Those of us who grew up in the 1980s got the joke, but then shockingly he started over and played the whole thing! This from the guy who once threw a fan out of his concert (with a refund) for requesting Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69"!

All told, it was a wild ride through the mind and music of Ryan Adams, pretty much exactly what we all hoped for.

Setlist

Gimme Something Good
Fix It
Dirty Rain
Let It Ride
Stay With Me
New York, New York
Trouble
Easy Plateau
My Wrecking Ball
Shadows
I Just Might
I Love You But I Don't Know What to Say
The Door
Oh My Sweet Carolina
Am I Safe
Rats in the Wall
When the Summer Ends
Peaceful Valley
Change the Boat
Kim
Dear Chicago
Magnolia Mountain

Encore

Run to You (Bryan Adams cover)

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >