Monday, 17 May 2010

'I See Monsters' - Ryan Adams (2003)

“I know you cannot hear me now,
‘Cause you’re fast asleep,
But I love you now.”

Five years ago, I was just landing in Boston to see the first screening of ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ (yes, I’m that geeky). But my first stop that very evening was to see Ryan Adams & The Cardinals who were playing at the exotic sounding (but not-that-exotic-at-all-in-reality) Avalon Ballroom, across the road from the Red Sox stadium.

Seeing your favourite band overseas is always something special and this would certainly be one of my favourite ever gigs if I was making a Nick Hornby-style list (I’m not). Everything was perfectly aligned, in that it was wonderfully misaligned. Ryan took to the beautifully lit stage (all floaty silver balloons) over an hour late, looking like a poster boy for life on the road. He then opened with half a dozen songs that no-one recognised – including the lighting engineer in the booth next to me who kept muttering, “This isn’t on the set list – how am I supposed to light this?”

By midnight and two hours in, Ryan and the Cardinals were melting faces (in a good way) – they’d even played some songs we knew. But it was a work night and folk were leaving to catch the last train home. By 1am, there were only about a third of us left – even the Cardinals had gone, leaving Ryan on stage with just his acoustic guitar and that gorgeously wracked voice. ‘I See Monsters’ was the final song on a night that was now early morning – way beyond curfew, the manager of the Avalon had to put the lights up and actually lead Ryan off stage.

That haunting final song played in my head as I walked back to my hotel through a deserted downtown Boston. I’d been up for over 24 hours at this point (what with the time zone differences) but was totally wired by the show. I’ve seen Ryan in great form many times, but never better. In recent years, he’s focused more on his writing, but I hope he takes to the stage again some time soon.

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