Last night, legendary singer songwriter Ryan Adams returned to his self proclaimed home away from home – London – to perform the last of his solo UK tour at the Palladium in Soho. It’s the star’s first stretch of performances in the UK since 2018, after cancelling his show at the Royal Albert Hall in 2019. His return is a potent and personal affair, with just the man himself onstage. Surrounded by his instruments, the intimacy is almost necessary, both for Adams and his fans.
The night officially begins with fan favourite Sweet Carolina. Ryan’s strained vocals feel even more vulnerable in this solo setting, and the lonely feeling – for the most part – is reciprocated by the crowd. He admitted early on that he and his team were nervous about the London show, the singer suffering from a mild cold to name one such issue, but nothing revealed as such. A few technical difficulties, and a couple of unfunny heckles from the audience sent Ryan on comedic tangents, showing that he’s no stranger to on stage banter. One man was singled out in the front row for looking ‘judgy’. “I hope he’s the reviewer” Ryan joked, before sarcastically adding “God forbid I do anything to ruin my perfect career”.
In a truly intimate moment, he alluded to the controversies he had been through in the past few years, but mainly he spoke of his deceased brother Chris, who died while Ryan was on tour in 2017. The heartfelt speech was followed by To Be Without You, a song that he says has changed meaning since it was first released. “It’s still about a chick though,” Ryan prefaced, “my brother would understand”. Lighter moments littered the set; Ryan pretending he had magical powers, wowing the audience as the house lights came on; a wise crack about not being allowed to have a rear view mirror on his piano, as he can’t drive in the UK. All these things melded with the songs, creating a well-rounded evening of sadness and joy.
Covers such as Moon River, Don’t Look Back In Anger, London Calling and Wonderwall showed Ryan’s influences, while alternative versions of some of his biggest songs – such as Gimme Something Good and New York, New York – showed his fluidity. Even songs he isn’t so fond of, such as Answering Bell, were played for the audience’s enjoyment alone. “I hate this song,” he began, “and I wish I never wrote it. I’m gonna judge you for liking it”. Unfortunately for Ryan, there wasn’t a disappointed person in the house.
Ashes and Fire
Gimme Something Good
New York New York
To Be Without You
I Am Safe
Panic (The Smiths cover)
Why Do They Leave
Crossed Out Name
Don’t Look Back In Anger (Oasis cover)
When The Stars Go Blue
Wonderwall (Oasis cover)
To Be Young
Come Pick Me Up
Writer and Musician, Ryan Bulbeck has been published with a number of online publications, and has worked with a myriad of great artists, both as a performer, and as a producer. His most recent band The 295 are still active, playing shows around the UK.