Review: Ryan Adams at The Enmore Theatre, December 6 2016

Whatever the decision Ryan Adams made to take his news songs and new band to only two public concerts, one in Sydney and the other in Tokyo, the fans of his music in those two locales consider themselves blessed. The new band may have been christened The Nuts on Instagram in the last two days, but whatever they end up being called, they truly ignited the sold out Enmore Theatre on Tuesday night.

The buzz of anticipation is always present when Adams comes to town and tonight was no exception. After doing a surprise invite only gig for a few hundred the previous night at The Factory, tonight was the first paid public performance by this new collective. The crowd was wondering what the band would deliver from Adam’s catalogue and the band were eager to get out in front of a crowd and get some feedback and to show off their licks.

‘Magnolia Mountain’, the song he recorded with The Cardinals, was the starting point tonight. We got our Jerry (Garcia) moment early with this track, the solos and the weary lyrical take very reminiscent of that famous band Garcia fronted. Although this was a track that could be slotted into the Americana genre, this concert was not going to head down that path.

With Ben Alleman on keys, long term producer and bassist Charle Stavish, Nate Lotz on drum and Benny Yurco (from Grace Potter and The Nocturnals) joining in on lead guitars, this was a rock and roll show. The lyrical content of the new songs are raw emotions. As Adams said, “these songs are so raw, that if you were to eat them you would get worms”. Raw they may be, but they do rock and roll and not wither in melancholia.

‘Dirty Rain”, from Ashes and Fire, was delivered with a punch and ‘Do You Still Love Me?’ from the new album Prisoner churned with powerful chords and aching lyrics. With 7 of the 21 songs being brand new to the audience, there was a chance of there being some disappointment in not hearing old favourites. Adams jokingly advised the crowd “not to be scared” of the new songs, but there was no fear at all, as the crowd truly engaged with the new numbers and the new band.

Prisoner appears to be an album of songs that don’t linger long on the jam, but come out with six strings on fire. Alleman played some beautiful keyboard solos through the set, and Yurco and Adams connected perfectly in guitar synchronicity. Even when the amplifiers lost power for a bit and the band waited patiently, Adams was so keen to get going and hoped they would fix them soon because he stated ‘we just want to rock”.

‘Kim’, ‘Gimme Something Good’ and ‘I just Might’ were a trio of songs off his eponymous 2014 record that fit into the attitude of the set list tonight. There was to be no acoustic guitars and harmonica, this was a rock concert simple and beautiful. ‘Cold Roses’ bookended the set with some more meandering gorgeous guitar jams and truly a magical moment on the night.
The band seemed like they wanted to play for hours more but they closed it down by getting to a couple of classics.

‘Shakedown On 9th Street’ from Heartbreaker had the room vibrating one more time with everyone joining in on the chorus. For the fans who wanted something from Gold, they were left wanting more, after a splendid closing version of ‘When the Stars Go Blue’.

Ryan Adams And The Nuts truly demonstrated a pulsating delivery of the new songs from Prisoner and this will truly be one of his best records based on the first instalment of them done live. I do believe this band will morph into something very special once the tour proper kicks off next year his fans hope they come back to show us what they have achieved a year from now.