No, it's not a good photo. It was taken at a concert with a cell phone, people! But you get the idea.
... because last night, Ryan didn't bother. And while I tend to avoid complaining about things on this blog, I'm gonna' make an exception on this one. I'm a little pissed that the Cardinals never got the applause they deserved.
Elvis and I went to see Ryan Adams at the Moore on Friday. Right off the bat, I need to tell you that this was a gorgeous show. I don't want there to be any mistake about that. Maybe I'm a little crabby at R.A. for not giving his boys their due, but still. Gorgeous.
Near as I can tell, the Cardinals are: Neal Casal, Jon Graboff, Brad Pemberton, Chris Feinstein and... one other guy who I don't see listed anywhere. There were six, weren't there? Including Ryan, of course.
The truth is, first time I listened to the new album, Easy Tiger, I didn't love it. There were some lyrics that I was, uh, less than super excited about, since I fear I will need an epi pen if I have to hear any guy tell me how fucked up he is ever again in life, ever. I really got enough of that in college. And listening to Ryan's delivery on the CD made it all sound a little whiny, "Halloweenhead, it's all the same old shit again", right. Okay, dude. The vocals on the CD sound like, I don't know, Ryan Adams is doing his "little girl voice" almost, or, what is it, nasal? I don't know. I lack the vocabulary with all this musical stuff. Still, after a few listens, it was starting to grow on me.
Then the show happened. The show was another story, it didn't have to grow on me at all. It was good right from the outset. You could hear Neal Casal's beautiful vocals so much better in person, and the Cardinals live just seem to bring out the best in Mr. Adams, the deepest tones of his voice, and his ability to make you feel that he is really doing some kind of heartfelt, earnest, important questioning. It was tender rather than glib, lacking the irritating irony or snide flavor you might expect out of a man who has a song titled "Oh My God, Whatever, Etc." When he sang that song in the concert, it was simply beautiful - I thought he miraculously managed to put all the meaning back into Oh My God - you heard "My God", you heard "Oh", you heard those words as they might have sounded before we all started using them in a rush of breath, like a three-word exclamation point.
The other song that blew me away was "The Sun Also Sets". Again, sounded a little whiny to me on the CD, but on stage, brave, gorgeous. I believed that our friend Ryan was up there singing from the very bottom to the very top of his soul, and it brought tears to my eyes, much like Dana did in her recent post about poetry, life, death and everything else worth talking about.
Elvis said it was one of his two favorite shows of the year, the other being My Morning Jacket. I suspect it might have won first place from him if the poster had not been a big take-off on a Charbucks cup, or if Ryan hadn't come out 52 minutes late, or if he had played a little longer than an hour and 34 minutes, or if the lighting had been a little stronger, so that we could see the musicians playing.*
I actually thought the lighting was gorgeous, big paper lanterns hanging over the stage, and this loungey, atmospheric haze of light flooding the stage. I loved that all six musicians were lined up next to each other on stage - was that why the all the instruments blended together so beautifully? Was that why I sat there in the hot, sickly sweet of the fog machined air in my uncomfortable seat, and thought "this is another one of those moments in my life where I am completely content to be just exactly where I am"? Maybe. And that's why I felt I had to introduce you to the Cardinals.
* Elvis says "No way. Still would have paled in comparison to My Morning Jacket."