This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
"Imagine there's smoke … almost like you're at a rock show," Ryan Adams said to a packed Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City on Sunday night. His crew didn't use smoke machines at his concert because, according to Adams, the theater wouldn't let them.
"And I was like, 'But it's theater!' " Adams said.
I don't think anyone would have even noticed. Who needs smoke when most of the songs were lengthened by the band jamming, riffing and showing off their rock chops?
He played a pretty even mix of tracks from "Prisoner," his 16th 16th! studio album and his older material. He threw in tracks written with previous bands, including "Peaceful Valley." It's the perfect song to play in Salt Lake City, he said, what with all of the "creepy-a mountains doing a bunch of [stuff] all at the same time."
Opening song • The concert started with a rock version of "Let It Ride," originally released in 2005 with his country-rock band, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals. It had this freeing feeling you get from driving on an abandoned road, away from your troubles, toward who cares where. The band played it surrounded by a dozen or so television sets, all displaying the same deserted highway.
Highlights • As he was singing the line, "'til Tuesday comes," during "Doomsday," Adams shouted, "No!" and stopped the band. He set down his electric guitar, grabbed a harmonica and an acoustic guitar and said, "This is why you love this song."
The lights went down and Adams was lit by a single strand of lights wrapped around a mic stand. He started the song over, this time a sullen, acoustic version.
He also improvised a simple rock song right there on stage, called "Live on Instagram," with lyrics such as "I like the kind of music that makes me think that it's possible that the devil is real," and "I'm not singing songs about meatballs, I'm singing about the way I f-ing feel."
He live-streamed the whole thing on his Instagram account.
Crowd favorites • The melancholy 2001 classic "When the Stars Go Blue" and new favorite "Do You Still Love Me," were well-received. Unsurprisingly, so was his gloomy, beautiful cover of "Wonderwall."
Best banter • "I can't talk, because I have to get back to work," Adams said, after stopping the show to explain why there was no smoke on the stage, and then wondering if they couldn't use their smoke machine because maybe Mama Mia or Miss Saigon were playing the next day at the theater. Seeing those plays (and dropping acid) are on his bucket list, he said, so long as he can see them in the worst possible place.
Near the end of the show, he shouted, "No!" after someone yelled a request. "When I make you my special lasagna, don't you dare ask me for a ham sandwich."
Adams told tales of KISS touring on "Lick It Up" and ignoring requests for "Strutter." On their next tour, he said, they ignored requests for "Lick It Up." "And they're like, 'No! We're playing 'Strutter.' We have the old drummer, and he can't play.' "
Up next at Eccles Theater • Dirty Dancing, June 20-25.
Ryan Adams setlist
1. Let it Go
2. Magnolia Mountain
3. To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)
5. Gimme Something Good
6. Dirty Rain
7. Fix It
8. Live on Instagram
10. Outbound Train
11. Shakedown on 9th Street
12. Do You Still Love Me
13. Anything I Say To You Now
14. When The Stars Go Blue
15. Wrecking Ball
16. Peaceful Valley
17. Dear John