I was wondering which Ryan Adams was going to show up tonight.
Turns out it was the happy, smiling, gracious, accomodating Ryan. Full review/photos when I’m home from work tomorrow but here’s the setlist from what has to be one of the Cardinals’ more “hit” focused sets. 2 hours!
Last night was my fifth Cardinals show in the last four years and it is easily up there with my favourite gig in Vancouver in 2007. Whereas Ryan’s last visit to Sydney was marred by a toxic show, last night was practically a love-in. Ryan indulged the crowd by busting out all those songs idiots yell for at shows:
> Come Pick Me Up was sooooo awesome to finally hear live.
> New York, New York was a totally random, surprise inclusion in the set
> Oh My Sweet Carolina was sublime
The band were totally on and focused last night. While I am a huge fan of the Cardinals penchant for improvising and jamming, there was little of that this time around (with the exception of the Peaceful Valley/Goodnight Rose medley). Instead the Cardinals focused on more concise songs which meant the show never stopped moving. I was constantly turning to Amanda and a friends of ours with looks of disbelief: “He’s playing Shakedown too?!”
The recent announcement that the Cardinals will be no more as of March is all the more baffling after watching them on stage last night. They were all smiling at many points throughout the gig; while the megajams were gone, you can tell the band still find little spots in songs to throw something new in to surprise one another. Ryan even introduced the band as his BFFs which the band followed up by playing an improv song “called” You Are The Audience. Ryan’s good mood and a relatively dickhead-free crowd meant the atmosphere was great all night. Ryan even treated us to a story about “accidentally” taking mushrooms at a gig back when he “wasn’t well.”
And while it easy to focus on Ryan’s good mood (given his visit last time) it’s always going to be the music of the Cardinals that stands out. From the opening notes of Stars Go Blue (which featured a mean solo by Ryan) to the loose groove of Let Us Down Easy (played for just the second time last night) the band were just on. Many of the newer songs felt a lot fuller live; Born Into A Light, for instance, was great with the addition of electric rather than acoustic guitars.
This tour’s version of Wonderwall has been spectacular and last night was no exception. Over the years Ryan’s arrangements of the song have been constantly evolving and the band has it nailed now: atmospheric, delicate, true to the original’s memorable melody, and yet a totally unique take on the song. Just beautiful.
The night ended at curfew (11pm…LAME Enmore) with Cobwebs, my favourite song off Cardinology. While it wasn’t necessarily a satisfying final song (I See Monsters was listed as next on the setlist…guess they didn’t want to break curfew) it sent the crowd spilling out onto Enmore Road pleasantly surprised that Ryan and Sydney finally made up.
When The Stars Go Blue
Let It Ride
Come Pick Me Up
New York, New York
La Cienega Just Smiled
You Are The Audience (Improv)
Freeway To The Canyon
The Sun Also Sets
The Rescue Blues
Let Us Down Easy
Born Into A Light
Oh My Sweet Carolina
Shakedown On 9th Street
Any show with New York, New York, Oh My Sweet Carolina, and Come Pick Me Up is gonna be awesome.
Photos from the gig here.