Everything started out beautifully. Ryan Adams, the ever-prolific alt-country ambassador, was set to play 18 songs for his Yahoo Live Sets performance on Sunday evening, to the delight of 200 or so fans in attendance. The stage was serene, with dimly-lit Japanese lanterns hanging above. The sound was pristine. Adams’ voice was in fine form and his mood upbeat. Kicking off the set with “Goodbye Rose” from his latest album, the critically-acclaimed Easy Tiger, Adams and the Cardinals, his stellar back-up band, tore through the first five songs effortlessly, among them ” Wildflowers” and ” Blue Hotel.” It had the makings of a perfect night.
For those all-too-familiar with Adams’ erratic behavior over the years, you could sense a collective sigh of relief give way to enthusiasm and respect as he jammed on to “The Sun Also Sets,” “Easy Plateau” and “Two,” and channeled his best Jerry Garcia (Adams even referenced the classic Grateful Dead album Terrapin Station). Hopped up on caffeine (a venti Starbucks iced coffee followed by several cans of Diet Coke), and feeling the love and excitement in the room, Adams started to loosen up, joking in between songs (before taking a bathroom break, he announced, “I don’t want to pull a Fergie”), deriding the songwriting skills of Jon Bon Jovi (Adams took issue with the “Like Frankie said, ‘I did it my way’ ” line in “It’s My Life”), and obliging some downright silly questions from the audience (If he could have any superpower, what would it be? Invisibility, so he could shop in the metal section of a record store undisturbed). And as the evening went on, his quirky behavior, which included barking like a dog every 20 minutes and lampooning his sobriety (” You can take away the booze, but you can’t take away the crazy,” he snickered), remained endearing. A good laugh to be had by all.
That was until it came time to play “Let it Ride.” No more than 45 seconds into the song, Adams stopped abruptly, then yelled into his microphone, “Turn the lights down or I swear I’m gonna leave… I don’t feel comfortable!” Indeed, when the demand wasn’t met instantly, Adams stormed off, leaving guitarist Neil Casal to apologize to the crowd and thank them for coming.
But as fans began to make their exit, word trickled down that Adams was coming back to finish up the show. And upon taking their seats again, they were greeted with an explanation: Adams simply wanted a cigarette… right at that very second. While the incident prompted Yahoo to issue a statement the following day, explaining that he did finish his set and all was good, it really wasn’t necessary.
Truthfully, this crowd didn’t mind. After all, what’s rock ‘n’ roll without a little residual anger? And what’s a Ryan Adams show without a mild temper tantrum? Would we have him any other way?
UPDATE: Commenter The Dude is correct; the song is called “Goodnight Rose,” not “Goodbye Rose.”