Ryan Adams at the Boulder Theater, 10/29/12


Half of the fun of seeing Ryan Adams live, apparently, is getting to hear all his banter. He has a fascinating duality: One minute he's completely enthralling the crowd with a heartfelt ballad, and then he bookends the tune by casually offering up a hilarious one-liner like, "There's those two people that are running for president and only one of them has seen Star Wars -- or understood Star Wars," which he told a packed Boulder Theater full Barack Obama volunteers and supporters last night.

See also: - Review: Ryan Adams at Temple Buell, 2/4/12 - Andy Guerrero on hugging the First Lady - Why the Obama campaign might want to rethink using "City of Blinding Lights"

Opening with gorgeous rendering of "Oh My Sweet Carolina," Adams was joined by his wife Mandy Moore, who added harmonies on the choruses. Within the first few strums of his red, white and blue Buck Owens American acoustic guitar, the entire venue was hushed. Well, until Moore left the stage and Adams said, "Now that she's gone we can do all the songs with the cussing in them," which got more than a few chuckles.

After the ballad "If I Am a Stranger," Adams took off his jean jacket and noted, "I can't play E-minor with a jacket on." As he got situated with his guitar, he added, "I haven't really played any of these songs since the last time I played any of these songs. So I don't know what I'm singing about."

He'd been randomly hitting a chord, possibly and E-minor, and then he stopped and said, "You know, this entire place you guys live in looks like one of those Dragon Elders book covers," which got some laughs. "What's really scary is how many people fucking knew what that meant."

While his set last night featured a lot of ballads, Adams threw in a few upbeat cuts like "Ashes and Fire" or "My Winding Wheel." He started the show sitting on a chair in middle of the stage with a music stand with a black binder of lyrics at his feet. A few songs in, he moved over to an upright piano not too far away from where he'd been sitting down. "I forgot my glasses," he said as he sat at the piano. "When I wear my glasses, on the inside of the glasses it has all the lyrics. Cost a fortune."

After getting a rousing applause from "The Rescue Blues," Adams moved to the other side of the stage where a microphone was set up for him to play standing up. "If you're just asking yourself if it can get slower, it can," he said. "Oh, it can. This one doesn't even have a tempo. It's like the tempo of a free-floating asteroid."

Before starting "Please Do Not Let Me Go," Adams tuned his guitar and said, "Sometimes I just like to stand up here and tune the guitar. I like to look busy. I tried building bookshelves but everyone got really upset. They're like, 'I didn't pay for this.' You didn't even see it. I'm not done. It's going to be so great. You got something against mahogany?"

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon

Latest Stories