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Ryan Adams - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

20th Feb 2006

Is he losing his mind, or just losing interest in his own music? Monday’s show in Manchester was either idiosyncratic in its disregard for the conventions of musical performance, or simply shambolic, depending on how much you like him. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen him. Forced to cancel most of his last two UK band tours due to a broken wrist and mystery ‘ear infection’, this tour sees Ryan on his own on a simply lit stage with just a piano, two guitars, candles and not very much sanity or regard for the audience. Finally taking the stage nearly 40 minutes late, the show began in promising fashion with a couple of new minor key piano songs, followed by rare live outings of ‘heartbreaker’ classics ‘Strange lil gal’ and ‘Call me on the way back home’. The downer king was back, or so it would seem. However, as the set went on, the gaps inbetween songs became longer, and Mr Adams increasingly began talking to himself either in a hushed whisper or a Judy Garland-style high pitched whine… I kid you not. It was quite funny for a while.
High-light of the night was a blistering electric version of ‘Cold Roses’ opener ‘Magnolia Mountain’ performed with the Cardinals drummer Brad Pemberton. Following a short break taken due to Ryan’s disgust at the venues no-smoking policy, and a lovely version of ‘When the stars go blue’ from ‘Gold’, things went from bad to worse. He played some cool new songs, and I have no problem with hearing new material for the first time live, but he was starting songs and losing interest half way in and stopping. A lot. He was either very off his face, bored, depressed, or maybe a bit of them all. Which ever way, this wasn’t a very good show.
 



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