Concert Review: Ryan Adams at Red Butte

Salt Lake and Ryan Adams have a bit of a, let’s say, history. We certainly don’t need to run it down in all it’s gory detail. And if there was any doubt that we’ve watched him grow up before our very eyes, there was no doubt Tuesday night when he took the Red Butte stage.

He first came out on stage to introduce his opener, Ruby Force, a gracious move that seemed to be lost on most of the crowd as they chatted over his introduction, unable to look over their wine glasses to see that the headliner was standing RIGHT THERE.

“It’s been a minute,” he said as he took the stage for his own set, “So, this buffet comes with extra clams.” I don’t know what that means, exactly—but he followed it up with, “We’re starting early so we can fit in a few extra jams.” Ah. Clams = Jams. Now I get it.

Anyway, Adams was all business as he tore through his setlist, starting with “Do You Still Love Me” and running through his entire catalog with some deep cuts and some crowd favorites.

At the last few Adams’ concerts he’s offered up his setlist with some multiple choice dealer’s choices for the crowd to choose from. This time he only did that once, told the crowd they were wrong and played both a fast and slow version of “Fix It.”

Adams often makes up songs on the spot at his shows, and Tuesday’s selection was a clever ditty I imagine would have been titled, “Secret Canyon” and was a bit of a love song to Red Butte and Salt Lake with lyrics like “This place is anything but salty.”

And I think he meant it. One of the few quips the normally much-more-talkative Ryan Adams got in was, “You guys are so nice here. This is always the weirdest show because you are so fucking nice, every time. Every time.”

So, he started early and didn’t talk much, which made more time for clams… or jams. And I was once again reminded that though Adams started out as alt-country and is now an indie-rocker of sorts, he’s most at home with a touch of heavy metal and a lot of ’80s hair band-style shredding. Ryan Adams is, above all else, one hell of a guitar player and the setlist seemed designed for jamming out, which he did, and as is his usual, he did it in style. Adams is a joy to watch play. He gets in the zone. He arches his back. “Halloween Head” and “Let it Ride” seemed to be especially full of extended guitar noodling.

He. Just. Shreds. And then, suddenly, he just stops. Ryan Adams does not waste his, or his audiences’ time, with encores. So, after come pick me up (a beautifully heavy on the harmonica version), he put down his guitar and walked away. Like a grown-ass man.

Christie Marcy
Christie Marcy
Christie Marcy is a former managing editor at Salt Lake magazine. Though she writes about everything, she has a particular interest in arts and culture in Utah. In the summer months, you will find her at any given outdoor concert on any given night. In the winter, you will find her wishing for summer. Follow her on social media at @whynotboth.

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