I can give my mother credit for many things in my life, including the feeling of uncertainty I felt walking into Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Wednesday night. A tried and tested Ryan Adams fan, she had texted me earlier in the day to say good luck in the “Ryan Adams roulette”, a fictional game that fans partake in on a semi-regular basis when attending the singer’s shows, betting on what kind of mood the singer will be in on that particular day. This fear would later turn out to be unfounded that night, as Ryan Adams happily whipped the crowd into a frenzy while winding through a long set of classics and newer songs.
Despite the uncharacteristic May chill that had settled in around the venue, fans buttoned their coats and held their beers close as Jenny Lewis took the stage to open the show. Introducing herself as simply “Lewis”, she launched into “Just One of the Guys”, a song from her 2014 album, The Voyager. While her selections ranged from brand new tunes (“Wasted Youth”) back to 2006 (“You Are What You Love” and “Melt Your Heart”), her lyrics were anything but dated, each chorus seeming to hit with a new piece of wisdom.
The audience filled in before Ryan Adams took the stage, one artistically cluttered with old tv’s, oversized amps, and stuffed lions. As the lights went down and the music began, his energy was immediately apparent. Adams opened his set with the first track off of his latest effort, Prisoner. The anthem, “Do You Still Love Me” readied the crowd for the 23 song set, during which Adams’ glow never wained.
For long time fans, a highlight of the show was the song “Sweet Illusions,” originally released by his band Ryan Adams & the Cardinals. “Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to hear this song years ago?” he teased when the crowd cheered at the opening chords. “Sweet Illusions” was the third of four Ryan Adams & the Cardinals songs that he played that night, the other three being “Let It Ride,” “Magnolia Mountain,” and “Fix It”.
A mic wrapped in twinkling Christmas lights sat at the front of the stage and was reserved only for when Adams used his acoustic guitar. It was in these quiet, personal moments that Ryan Adams’ connection with his music became palpable, sweeping across the Pavilion and pulling the crowd closer. Though it’s difficult to put into words, it was during these moments, with a well written love song pulling at your heart strings, that it was clear why Adams’ fans return again and again for his live shows. It isn’t the chance to play air guitar or to sway gently next to your significant other, but the chance to witness the unmitigated and sometimes raw talent of a man whose work is leaving an impression.
Do You Still Love Me?
To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)
Gimme Something Good
Stay With Me
Wonderwall (Oasis cover)
When the Stars Go Blue
Let It Ride
My Winding Wheel
Anything I Say to You Now
New York, New York
Shakedown on 9th Street
Come Pick Me Up