November 17, 2011 | 8:45am
Having witnessed Ryan Adams at the Balboa Theater in San Diego nearly a month ago, It still ranks as one of my top shows of the year. Ryan Adams's latest album Ashes & Fire smolders with intensity as it is packaged nicely into a batch of songs that showcase why Adams is such a brilliant songwriter. It would have been insanity to pass up on the recording of an intimate session in front of 150 people that was taped for KCRW to be aired on December 2nd.
Adams was wearing a Slayer t-shirt and Vision Street wear kicks. Picking up his Buck Owens model acoustic guitar, Adams plucked out the ringing notes of "Oh Sweet Carolina." Immediately, the room seemed to get even smaller. Adams was so captivating that it felt like he was playing directly to you.
Dunking his harmonica in a glass of water, Adams continued with "Ashes & Fire," summoning up the harmonica to add some extra zest to the foot tapping rambling song. Switching to his Harmony acoustic guitar with a Judas Priest like metal fastener embedded guitar strap, Adams displayed his wide range of vocal stylings for "Dirty Rain."
One of my favorite tunes from Heartbreaker, "My Winding Wheel" had Adams precariously leaning forward in his chair while he expertly plucked out the notes on his guitar. Adams gave the audience a recommendation of listening to AC/DC's "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You") and "Hells Bells" while cruising music down Sunset Blvd. before diving into "Invisible Riverside."
Ryan's interview with KCRW host Jason Bentley was hilarious. Adams went into great length about his love of black metal and explained how the low guitar tunings of Celtic Frost's "Into The Crypts of Rays" had been facsimiled by Alice in Chains and further devolved into Collective Soul. I might have been the only other person in the room to have Celtic Frost's Morbid Tales on vinyl and could totally grasp the point that he was trying to get across.
After some more revealing insights to his songwriting process, Adams effortlessly regained his stride with a razor sharp rendition of "Let It Ride." Taking off his wedding ring for "an amazing solo at the end of the song," Adams tore up "Please Do Not Let Me Go," leaving the audience breathless. The rapt attention and politeness of the audience only made it that much more special.
"Lucky Now" and "Chains of Love" were flawless as Adams still utilized his Buck Owens guitar with a capo at the third fret strumming out chords that most likely don't appear on your Spotify playlist. Dipping into the Whiskeytown catalog, Adams encore featured "Somebody Remembers The Rose," "Houses On The Hill," and "Jacksonville Skyline." Adams also took some time out to praise the latest Ratt album Infestation gleefully boasting how every song is as good as "Round and Round".
Ignoring the time constraints and continuing to play songs cause he was in such a good mood, Adams worked through "When Will You Come Back Home?" and "Yesterday" to wrap up his five song encore.
Set your dial for 89.9 KCRW on December 2nd for a taste of Ryan Adams and hope that he will announce a show in Orange County soon.
Personal Bias: Celtic Frost fans must stick together since there aren't many of us.
Random Notebook Dump: Adams admitted he's a terrible guitar tech.
Overheard in the Crowd: Absolutely nothing. It was beautiful to hear Adams just play songs and not be interrupted.
"Oh My Sweet Carolina"
"Ashes & Fire"
"My Winding Wheel"
"Let It Ride"
"Please Do Not Let Me Go"
"Chains Of Love"
"Do I Wait"
"Somebody Remembers The Rose"
"Houses On The Hill"
"When Will You Come Back Home?"