(Updated) Ryan Adams survival guide: Things to know before you go

Update (12/5/12): Full review and setlist from the show just posted.

ryan adams from website.jpg
Pax-Am Records

Update (12:53 p.m.): So check this out: A couple more things you should know here: First of all, Friday's show has been postponed until tomorrow night (Saturday) due to inclement weather (shocker, we know). Secondly, whatever sensationalist malarkey you've read about Ryan Adams being some sort of uptight, humorless curmudgeon or whatever, we're happy to report that that's complete bullshit. Dude is every bit as amiable as you'd imagine. Oh, sure, he probably gets grumpy every now and then, but don't we all? We can tell you this first hand because we just got off the phone with him a few minutes ago.

Evidently, somebody tweeted him a link to this post, and he wanted to clear a few things up, because, well, he cares about that sort of thing, and he's good like that. He wasn't worked up about it or anything. Just wanted to clarify some things. It was a very casual conversation that lasted about fifteen minutes and started off with him marveling about being in Denver and lamenting the fact that he missed a meteor shower that streaked across the sky here and ended with him indulging a fanboy-worthy question about "Come Pick Me Up."

What a great fucking song that is, eh! But we digress. Uh, where were we...

Oh, yeah, the survival guide below. Turns out, the blogosphere might've made the whole thing sound slightly more draconian than it really is: First of all, the Cardinals thing -- it's pretty obvious that the Cardinals will not be on hand. This is something we didn't necessarily need to point out; the Cardinals will no sooner be on hand tomorrow night than Whiskeytown will be. Just the same, there have been folks in other cities that grumbled after the fact that Ryan appeared solo, so we just put that out there sort of preemptively. You know, just in case.

The rest of our tips really were meant to give you an idea of what to expect at the show. Given that this performance is taking place at the Temple Buell, it's going to be a little more elegant of a setting. So the whole thing about photography not being permitted, no alcohol being served and taking care not to be disruptive with trips to the bathroom, these are not necessarily absolutes, but rather considerations put forth to respect the integrity of the performance and perhaps curtail some of the incessant distractions that tend to plague shows these days.

Ryan tells us that he has weathered some disruptions along the way, but that he'd prefer not to throw "pizza at pizza," as he put it, and he's not about to start dadding everybody if somebody gets out of hand. For the most part, everybody's been respectful on this tour, and he doesn't anticipate this show being any different. As for the booze, well, that's really something left to the discretion of each venue. The house rules abide. Ryan assures us he has made no special requests of management or anybody else to institute some ironclad prohibition policy.

Bottom line: Ryan Adams is not trying to make this a joyless, legalistic experience for everyone. From what we get, he really just wants people to hear the nuances of his songs in an intimate environment and experience the show without all the peripheral distractions created by (and now synonymous with) this modern era.

Steve Martin, Ryan's publicist at Nasty Little Man, puts a finer point on it. He sent us a note clarifying some points in our survival guide not too long after this item was posted, and that missive spurred this whole conversation with Ryan in the first place. While his email was admittedly a bit snarky, it was also pretty spot on and, well, sort of awesome. That said, we've annotated the original piece with his comments. -- Dave Herrera


SURVIVAL GUIDE

Original post: 2/3/12, 10:00 a.m. •

After a long period of struggle in both his musical and personal lives, Ryan Adams is back in full force. Last fall during a rare intimate performance at Su Teatro (captured by That's the Thing About That), Denver got a sneak peek of Adams's latest tour, which features the songwriter performing large opera houses and ambient theaters, alone with a stool and his acoustic guitars. There's distinct drama in his most recent approach to his audience -- but it turns out there are also a lot of rules. Among other changes, Adams has ditched the Cardinals and taken on zero-tolerance policies on photography and rude concert etiquette. In advance of the show, we've put together a survival guide of sorts for you so that you know what you're in for tonight based on recent performances. Page down for the full rundown.


ABOUT THE SHOW

A great deal has changed within Ryan Adams's soundsphere since his time with the Cardinals. Three years ago, he married Mandy Moore, sobered up, disbanded his alt-country band, took a break from touring and began stockpiling all of his previously unreleased material. Through his October solo album, Ashes & Fire, we're led to believe that Adams escaped this period unscathed and unfazed, a little raw for the wear but with a deeper, clearer and more intimate shade of voice and self-awareness than we've seen from him in years. In making himself more vulnerable, Adams has made his second act a must-see.


THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

The Cardinals will not be there
A heavy amount of Internet surprise has been devoted to attendees recording their bewilderment that Adams is not accompanied by his longtime band. In January 2009, Adams split from the Cardinals after Ménière's disease lowered his health and a quickly increasing disillusionment with the music industry in general lowered his spirits. They will not be there. He will.

"Your Ryan Adams piece is so sensationalized. Really tabloid-y and over-dramatic. The Cardinals not being there is a surprise? Ryan hasn't been playing with them for years, they're not on the current record, and this tour has been playing reviewed in every major market in the U.S. and abroad since last fall. This is not news."

Setlist
Adams' most recent setlists have been a glorious exploration of his career to date. Disillusioned or not, the savvy singer-songwriter is delving deep into his back catalog on this tour, rehashing hits from as far back as his Heartbreaker days while mixing in a light handful of material from his latest solo effort, Ashes & Fire. The creative mix lends itself to long sets peppered with a handful of covers including Alice in Chains and, of course, his take on Oasis' "Wonderwall."

No Alcohol? Maybe not tonight, at least during the show.
If you've read any of the reviews from his most recent tour, you'll notice a generous amount of bitter asides and bitter commenters. One of these revolves around a strange and recurring ban on alcohol in many of the venues the singer has appeared at. While the staff of the Buell couldn't comment on any orders regarding drinks, Adams' publicist confirms the trend: "At some shows they have sold alcohol but nothing is allowed into the theater," says Nasty Little Man's Dana West. "This was the case at the Carnegie Hall show that I saw in December. And yes, at other shows I have heard they haven't sold alcohol period."

"It's an intimate one man theater show, no more no less. There is no "strange and recurring ban on alcohol," it's just not allowed in the theater and the bars are shut down once performance begins, same with photography. Much as when I've seen anyone else play in this kind of environment. You've never seen a one man solo acoustic show?"

Cell phone photos? Afraid not. Don't even think about it.
The outlawed items don't end there. After a recent show in Louisville, Kentucky, one reviewer wrote that the "security staff -- in particular one lady who put the fear of God into the entire Orchestra C -- was patrolling the crowd like it was Cell Block C at Alcatraz. And if you were so foolish as to even flash the backlit screen of your phone momentarily, you were descended upon with klieg lights and a stern admonition to PUT AWAY YOUR PHONE." Cell phone photography is highly discouraged, says West, and the Buell will be carefully monitored for rulebreakers. You can still bring them, just don't take them out. "Nobody is going to take anyone's cell phone away," West says, "and they aren't collected before the show or anything."

"The cell phone thing is a request not an edict. At Carnegie Hall, Ryan was even joking about it. He can't personally control how every security person conveys an artist's request."

Actually, make that photography of any kind. Ain't happening, buster!
Seriously. No photos. Of any kind. Outside of the crackdown on cell phone cameras, professional photography is also prohibited. Even press photographers have been stripped of picture privileges during this tour in an effort to crack down on concert images and the distractions they can cause.

Potty breaks should probably be kept to a minimum.
During recent sets, Adams has asked audience members to leave only between songs, which is a nicety, to be sure, but a strictly enforced one. At recent shows, in order to return to your seat, you must wait outside the theater until he has completely finished a song before being allowed inside. This is an acoustic tour, and Mr. Adams takes that seriously.

"And the potty break thing is just nonsense. Every theater that hosts acoustic shows or plays has signs posted that say "no one in or out during performance." That's not a tour policy. Come on."


Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
My Voice Nation Help
15 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Steven Trev Loftin
Steven Trev Loftin

These "rules" aren't for the benefit of him, they're for us clearly. It's not about 'Rock and Roll', this is clearly a one man acoustic show, putting him self in a very vulnerable position by singing his songs stripped down and raw. I've been to 2 shows of his current tour in England, and all have been amazing, had it not been for these "rules" *cough* common courtesy *cough* they would have been ruined. In fact one guy at the Union Chapel show in London decided against the "no mobile photography" rule and it was a major distraction considering he was front row and all. Amazing article! Can't wait to see him again in April! 

Lauren Arieux
Lauren Arieux

Saw the Louisville show and got to personally experience the woman who absolutely did put the fear of God into us in the orchestra. We're talking - wayyyyy before Ryan's opener even went on, she was asking people texting and tinkering with their phones to put them up. We assumed the staff had been given quite the talking to and were worried for what that may mean for the show. Our worries, however, were unfounded, as he was quite funny, laid-back, and downright cheerful. And of course the tunes and his sound was solid. I'm usually one to distract myself with trying to take videos and pictures, and I was happy to have the respite and couldn't help but notice just how much more of the show I took in without all the distractions. So kudus to Ryan. 

Mick
Mick

Hes still a cunt!

Neil Robertson
Neil Robertson

I tweeted the story to him and he responded that it was a "load of bullshit". Glad he responded over the phone... that had to have been an awesome call!

backbeatmod
backbeatmod

It was. That dude is aces in my book. Did you go to the show? Damn good show. Review here if you haven't seen it. At any rate, thanks for chiming in, Neil.

Rock fan
Rock fan

This is totally worth noting. When a guy gets famous for being in a band called Whiskeytown and is a notorious drunk/drug addict, then gets sober and plays in stuffy theaters with a ban on booze and regulates bathroom breaks, you have to expect people accusing him of being a pretentious diva. Of course he has the right to do it, and people should go and enjoy it if they want, but come on, this is rock and roll. Or used to be. The idea that his press agent is shocked that rock critics are going to take him to task for this is so disingenuous. If Lady Gaga suddenly put on a pantsuit, endorsed Newt Gingrich and sang songs about abstinence through Jesus, then we'd all be noting that change too.

Tim
Tim

Saw this show in Boston in early December. Same rules, similar intimate venue (Orpheum Theater). You're in for an amazing treat! Sit back and enjoy one of the best, most prolific songwriters of our time. Appreciate the talent before you. If you want to get trashed and talk, go to a bar. Shut your mouth and listen. It's not too much to ask, and you won't be sorry.

Martin
Martin

Good for Ryan, and the audience.  Also, kudos to the Magnolia for letting us change our room to tomorrow night.

Michael Thompson
Michael Thompson

Yeah, those publicist comments are pretty snarky!

backbeatmod
backbeatmod

They kind of are, but you absolutely have to respect somebody who's willing to call you out on something when they think they're being misrepresented -- or, in this case, when they feel like somebody that they, er, represent is being misrepresented. Absolutely no hard feelings whatsoever on this end. It was a great (and very real) dialogue, and, frankly, that really doesn't happen nearly often enough these days. Kudos to both Steve Martin and, of course, Ryan Adams.

Steve Robertson
Steve Robertson

WTF happened to rock and roll? I'll be at Benders tonight watching a show that isn't cancelled by a bunch of AWESOME local artists (Informants, Hawk Attack and Sunday Girl) who know how to throw down and give the people what they want. I can pee when I want, take their picture and even get so close I can spill a drink on the stage! #fail

brian
brian

Im glad its like this.  we are goin to see art in motion.

hard luck story
hard luck story

My camera was collected before a show in the UK last year :(No drinks there either! :(

eCurmudgeon
eCurmudgeon

"and they aren't collected before the show or anything."

Tragic, really. I've always wanted to see an event venue set up a mandatory "Phone Check" counter. Might make going to concerts enjoyable again, without having to put up with the army of iPhone cinematographer wannabes...

maura
maura

Years ago I saw Morrissey at the Apollo in NYC and phones had to be checked.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Denver Event Tickets
Loading...