Ryan Adams @ Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Glasgow loves Ryan Adams. The wild applause which greeted his arrival on stage was as loud as some you might hear at the end of a great set. Before long, Ryan realised that in this city he’ll be clapped just for walking across the stage.

And unlike the “existential hopelessness” in the relationships he sings about, Ryan seems to love Glasgow too. Whether it’s at the Barrowlands, the Academy or the more genteel environment of the Concert Hall, Ryan always has a great time playing in Glasgow.

“This is a song about rain.  I know you don’t get a lot of that here…so just try to imagine,” he joked as he led into the fourth song of the evening, Dirty Rain – which is growing in stature with every performance.  An early precedent to joke with the audience – missing from his polished performance the previous night – had been set, though it didn’t detract from the quality of the show.

For a self-professed sad bastard, Ryan Adams does humour like a seasoned stand-up.  He couldn’t help but ponder, following the recent holographic performance of Tupac, how crazy it would be for an artist to walk out on stage to see the audience is just one giant hologram.  “We should play that joke on KISS,” he mused.  “They deserve it, they’re always playing jokes on us, coming out dressed like rock clowns from Mars.”

The “greatest hits” setlist established on this European tour was tweaked slightly for a receptive Glasgow audience.  Out went Let It Ride, replaced by the superior Why Do They Leave?  Ryan’s voice aches with despondancy here in harmony with a ghostly harmonica.

There was also room for an airing of the hushed ode to his cat in “Mr. Cat” before the gig resumed an air of seriousness with New York, New York.

These shows, with their “greatist hits” feel, do a fine job in encapsulating the career of Ryan Adams.  Almost all of his best work is showcased here (you could, if you were being picky, make a case for some of the few albums not represented; Strawberry Wine from 29, for example, but as he remarked, you’d need two concerts for him to play everything) and on a night like this, when his humour subtly compliments the extraordinary voice and the increasingly ambitious guitar, the very best qualities of Ryan Adams are presented to the audience.

It’s why Glasgow adourns him with such love, and why Ryan almost immediately took to Twitter to declare it his “FAV show of the tour!!!!”


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