The first time I hoped to see Ryan Adams I was actually in labour. The start of that part of life called “waiting on Girl2 to stop faffing”. She joined us eventually, safe and sound, but in her own time.
The second time, I did actually get to see him and a loud, rocky band. It wasn’t long after I’d taken sick and I hadn’t quite grasped the problem of standing. I couldn’t. I had to leave before they finished. When we got home, Spurs Fan had to endure me singing along to all the songs that I’d missed, from the sofa. I haven’t stood at an event since. I’ve missed lots, but it’s not worth it.
This time was going to be different. We had seats. The girls were being looked after. All was well. Bring it on.
I didn’t know quite what to expect; apart from the unexpected. Ryan is very much his own person. A wonderful songwriter, hugely prolific, and a great voice, but unlikely to do anything for the sake of keeping others contented.
The omens were not good. The support act was earnest and folky. He needed a beard and a sense of humour. He was the antithesis of a warm up act; people left the hall in droves as he sang dirges in the dark. He was driving them to drink. I’m fine with a bit of contraryness, but I was worried.
The choral music at the interval was interesting, but not exactly reassuring: it could still go either way.
Then Ryan appeared, and magic happened. He opened with ‘Oh, my sweet Carolina”, my absolute favourite of his, and the one where I always pretend to be Emmylou. I kept quiet this time, as did everyone else. Two thousand people held their breath, afraid to break the spell. It was absolutely wonderful. That alone was worth every penny, the years of missing out.
The next 19 or 20 songs were a bonus. Ryan was in great form, and even seemed happy. The songs were from Ashes and Fire, Heartbreaker and Gold, with some of the Cardinals material thrown in. Then, it was encore time; the only concert I’ve ever been to where the artist said “I’ll never please you all, so I’ll just play what I want to”- a cover of somebody else’s song. A song I’d never heard. No mere crowdpleaser, our Ryan.
We left the hall to the strains of Whitney Houston– expecting the unexpected is the way to go.
We have this whole programme recorded; call round any time.