C is for…

Call me on the way back home by Ryan Adams

If you have read A and B then, C links to A. And if that makes no sense to you I’ll try and make it make sense…

First time I heard it live: Shortly after the Elvis Costello gig the wee Scottish one asked me if I wanted to go and see Ryan Adams. I probably frowned or exclaimed :”Bryan Adams?” Anyway, Marie had already bought the tickets, so I was going whether I’d heard of Ryan Adams or not (which I hadn’t). Marie assured me the man was brilliant and I didn’t feel that I needed to investigate any further than that. Oh and she possibly burnt me a copy of Heartbreaker (but I didn’t listen to it). At some point before the gig, I think I did notice that he was ALL over Beth Orton’s Daybreaker album so I figured he must be all right.

The gig was at the Bataclan near Oberkampf. Being December it was quite possibly freezing, but I don’t recall that being one of the many things that was a problem that evening. There were chairs. I’m fairly certain there were chairs: these fold up numbers with red faux leather seats and backs. And I found that really odd, because how the hell were we supposed to dance if there were chairs? Then we got stuck up the side. We were pretty close to the stage,  but it was squishy and seated and weird. I have no memory of the support, but I’m fairly sure we were there for the support. I was probably moaning about the chairs the whole way through them. Then the man himself came on stage.

I think fairly early on he announced that it was the last night of an extensive European tour and that last night they’d been somewhere else. Then don’t ask me what the music was like because what followed was an hour and half of him starting and not finishing sentences, fiddling with his chair and putting on and taking off this frigging floppy hat he was wearing. The songs seemed to be an interlude to all this faffing. It was like he couldn’t be bothered to be on stage.

This coupled with the completely uncritical crowd whipped me up into a rage. Before every song, the most unFrench crowd screamed and wailed: “Oh Ryan!”, “You’re beautiful.” or there was just full on uncontrollable screaming. I’d only been in France a couple of years, so it’s not that I’d tamed to the polite clapping of a French crowd, but I am British after all and none of the former is acceptable at a British gig, or at least the ones I’d been to.

Towards the end of the gig he played Wonderwall, which probably didn’t help as ever since I saw Oasis in Mexico, I twitched at any reference of that band. Anyway, the gig finished and we marched (fast) to the metro. I don’t know if I was asked or whether I volunteered the information all by myself, but my critique of the whole evening was: “What a wanker.”

I found a couple of live videos for this post and it seems that the fidgeting and faffing wasn’t specially for us that cold December night and I don’t think I could bear to sit through another of his gigs, as Ryan Adams is very special, but…

Cover of "Heartbreaker"

First time I heard it:… but the thing is that in the summer of 2004 Marie left Paris and on my desk, with a wee pink post-it note on it, was the original Heartbreaker CD for me. She still hadn’t given up on me liking it. And for some reason that summer I did listen to it. All of it. Over and over again. There’s about a third of the album that I’m ambivalent about, but the other ten tracks I LOVE. The lyrics are great, the tunes are great and one track even has Emmy-Lou Harris on it (I just adore her voice). I suppose I might have picked Come pick me up above Call me on the way back home, but he didn’t play the former. Anyway, if you think all country is pap, Ryan is not. If you’ve been mixing him up with Bryan, personally I think Ryan is much better and if you love him too and can put up with his strange  foibles than may you enjoy many gigs to come.

Oh and if you are a bit geeky like me and want to know what Ryan did play that night, click this link for the setlist.

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