Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Burning Photographs

Of course he didn't. He's Ryan Adams.

Play a single song from "Rock and Roll"? Of course not despite its near pop perfection. Okay, surely play something from his complete cover of T Swift's "1989," his most recent album? Hell, no.

The stage at the Charlottesville pavilion was set with two massive pretend Fender amps, a Dr. Pepper machine, a couple of early game machines and a flag with a peace sign for stars. The juju appeared to be good.

Around us were, presumably, Ryan Adams fans from a five year old with a Queen patch on his little denim jacket to a guy with a souvenir t-shirt from the recent Guns 'n Roses show in D.C. The crowd looked pretty diverse age-wise, with the largest concentration - no surprise - in the decades before and after Ryan's 41 years.

Except none of them looked like someone Mandy Moore would have married, if you know what I'm saying.

It was a warm night for an outdoor show, though it didn't compare to the epic swelter of the Arcade Fire show in June 2011 when people were passing out and everyone's clothing was soaked, and Blenheim Rose gets credit for helping with that.

Given my vertical brevity, of course a 6'6" man and his wife had to sit down in front of us, but the guilt in doing so was killing them. The giant insisted on measuring my height against his to determine how far he'd have to bend over if he sat in front of me. Meanwhile, his wife asked if I could be bought, offering me a warm cinnamon doughnut from the brown bag in her lap.

I can be bought. Tall people get in front of me at shows all the time, but rarely am I compensated for the inconvenience.

Ryan Adams looked about as curmudgeonly contrarian as he'd appeared when I first saw him in 2007 at the Norva, balancing that out with his off-beat humor, telling the crowd good-night after almost every song.

After playing the closest thing to a crowd-pleaser, "I Still Love You, New York," he cracked, "I just made that up. Thank you and good night." He sang happy birthday to the lighting guy.

Or, "Okay, I'm going to do the mellowest version of a song ever and later do something with sock puppets," before playing "Let It Ride."

Despite having driven through driving rain and hail to get to Charlottesville, I'm here to tell you there were no sock puppets.

Which was okay only because there was a fabulous dinner at Alley Light first, a make-up date since I'd been under the weather when we'd gone last Fall.

Fortunately, there are do-overs for some things.

Tonight's goal: a fuller experience, meaning we stuffed ourselves silly with a special of earthy French lentils with bacon and sausage, light and bright potted shrimp with garlic mayo and pickled carrots, ricotta with beet cubes and pistachio pesto that we slathered thickly over crusty bread, the thinnest of tuna tartare with shaved Parmesan and a massive vegetable board (that looked like one of those late Renaissance elaborate fruit and vegetable still life portraits) over a Provencal aioli, accompanied by a Maison Shaps Cremant de Bourgogne.

We ate all the things, drank all the bubbles and listened to Ryan Adams outside on a warm, summer night. It was glorious and I have the tie-dyed t-shirt to prove it.

But what  I wouldn't have given to hear "Anybody Wanna Take Me Home?" live. Anybody? Thank you and good night.

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