The Ryan Adams faithful gathered at Red Rocks on Tuesday (June 20). A cloud billowed to the left of Creation Rock; every now and again lightning flashed and a few drops of rain sprinkled, refreshing after the 95-degree day. While there were no pinball machines or classic video games, stacks of unreal amps and flashing TVs wrapped around the stage. A haze of smoke swirled around the band. Ryan Adams was back at Red Rocks and he was ready to rock and roll.
The opening organ strains of “Do You Still Love Me” reverberated off the rocks. Last year, Adams played a slow, funky version of “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)” (which you know from the opening of “Old School”). This year, the song got the full rock and roll dress-down, much closer to the studio version from Heartbreaker.
“Two” had Red Rocks swaying. Adams seemed to be tempting the clouds with “Dirty Rain,” "but it ain't raining anymore." He stood alone in the spotlight with just his acoustic guitar to perform the title track from his latest, Prisoner, the first of a few wooden numbers.
He unleashed a barrage of crowd pleasers beginning with “Let It Ride,” a stellar “Magnolia Mountain” with an amazing jam, an absolutely rocking “Shakedown on 9th Street” and a mellow “Winding Wheel” to chill it out a bit.
Back to the hits. Adams jumped in with “New York, New York” and “When the Stars Go Blue,” fitting for a summer night at Red Rocks. In sharp contrast came “Doomsday.” A solo acoustic performance of Oasis’ “Wonderwall" led into one of the highlights of a Ryan Adams show: the banter.
Adams spoke highly of Red Rocks during an improvised song, which also contained a world's greatest dad reference and a solo from guitarist Todd Wisenbaker, which Adams claimed was “too good” and “blew out his amp.” Adams then proclaimed that playing at Red Rocks was like “your birthday mixed with ‘Survivorman.’"
Perhaps in place of an encore, Adams brought the house down with “Cold Roses" and an epic jam before shutting the night down with a solo acoustic “Come Pick Me Up.” To paraphrase a line in the last tune: We all had a smile on our face. And we’ll do it again.