Review: Ryan Adams, live at Sheffield City Hall, 27/04/12

Andrew Trendell went to see Ryan Adams at Sheffield City Hall
Andrew Trendell went to see Ryan Adams at Sheffield City Hall

REPORTER Andrew Trendell went along to review Ryan Adams at Sheffield City Hall.

“THIS is a song about rain,” whispers Ryan Adams with a sly smile. “A theme that’s been running throughout this tour.”

Tonight, Sheffield is blanketed with sheets of a very Northern kind of rain, and Ryan Adams knows exactly how to cure it.

With the right balance of heart-breaking sentiment and infantile banter, this once-troubled troubadour does an impeccable job of making such a vast and classical venue seem so intimate and warm – enough to see steam rising from City Hall into the watery night sky of the Steel City.

The last decade has seen Adams, Hollywood starlet Mandy Moore’s other half, take on a number of guises – as alt-folk’s anti-hero on early work like the seminal Gold, as a rock n’ roll monster on his louder material and work with The Cardinals, and as a bard of the ballad in his softer moments. Tonight, Adams has stripped away all of the excess and distractions – drawing your focus to one thing and one thing only: the songs.

Armed only with an acoustic guitar, piano, his inimitable voice and a whole ‘lotta denim, R’Adams holds the audience in the palm of his hand and wears his heart on his sleeve. Always the charmer, only Adams could tickle the crowd with a ballad about his love for his cat. Turns out Mr Cat is the President of ‘softness’ and would love Sheffield due to its love of fish, and yes, the rain.

Highlights of the evening include tear-jerking pop gem My Winding Wheel, the soulful fun of English Girls Approximately, a devastating performance of Lucky Now and a tender, piano-led rendition of classic single New York, New York.

Some day soon, it would be awesome to see him rocking out with a band again, but by honing in on the basic elements of his craft, Ryan Adams holds up the microscope to beautiful shards of his life’s work to show how he’s proven such an inspiration for everyone from Laura Marling and Noel Gallagher to Elton John and Bono.

In short – every moment holds a classic.

As we pull up our collars to face the damp streets, there’s not a dry eye in the house. Tonight was a night of smiles, tears and solid gold memories. Pretty impeccable, but when it rains, it pours.

By Andrew Trendell