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Ryan Adams plays a "decent" show

Avalon, Boston, May 17, 2005

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

The ever prolific Ryan Adams probably would have been expected to play a good chunk of songs from his strong, brand new double-CD disc, "Cold Roses," released only two weeks ago.

But the sold-out crowd would have been sorely disappointed because not only did Adams shied away from current material, he didn't even play songs that had seen the light of day.

Who knows? Maybe by now the material on "Cold Roses" is golden oldies for Adams, who proceeded to play songs from two (yes, two!) forthcoming albums out later this year.

And while that could have been exceedingly challenging for an audience (it definitely was for one person), chalk it up to Adams to quite capably deliver the new songs easily and confidently and achieve a very good response.

Adams emphasized his country leanings quite clearly, starting off with a slow country song. He also delved into more of a rock sound ("Love Is Hell") with a rootsy edge, but Adams' love of country never was far away.

"Jacksonville City Nights," the second song of the night and title track of his August release, was a slower country song with Adams' vocals right upfront.

"I know I'm supposed to playing the (music) that came out last week, but I have digressed into the future," Adams joked, explaining that he was dishing out unknown songs.

Adams tolerated a heckler who urged him to play songs that were already out there, saying he had paid $30 for his ticket.

Adams seemed more amused than anything else.

The fan was escorted out of the club, and Adams later made several references to him, saying he missed his presence. With that, Adams, who acknowledged charges of narcissism against him, jokingly played a song on piano with words "play that song that I want to hear."

Adams was pretty much in fine form regarding his stage presence. He mumbled on purpose at times, but was very engaged with the crowd. On a previous visit to Boston, Adams was a total dud, turning his back to the audience for most of the night and being guilty of the negativity towards him.

Aside from that, Adams seemed to honestly enjoy his evening and made sure to thank concert goers, particularly at the end when a 1 a.m. club curfew ended his evening.

Perhaps the one knock against Adams on this night is that he went on too long. He played a good 2 1/2 hours and by the time he left the stage for a quick "medicinal" break, Adams lost a sizable chunk of the crowd.

And what proved to be a three-song encore also wasn't Adams' most exciting work of the evening.

But make no mistake about. Whether Adams is playing new songs or even newer songs doesn't matter. On this evening, Adams knew how to entertain and did so quite well.

During the show, he commented how, "I never seem to play a decent show when I come to Boston." After this evening, he could no longer make that claim.

Rachel Yamagata of Chicago opened with a less than satisfying 40-minute set. Yamagata has achieved some positive response and turned in a good performance at the Paradise not to many months ago.

But here, she drifted into slow tempo songs la Norah Jones with a dash of Sarah McLachlan thrown in. Unfortunately, she also did not make for very exciting music.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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