When I left my house for the show last night, I really wasn’t in that much of a concert mood. Particularly Ryan Adams, I mused to myself, if he is absurdly maudlin and melancholy. But I’d bought the ticket and I wanted to see him with the Cardinals before the “retirement,” so off I went. I left early enough to allow for finding parking and getting to War Memorial where I’d never been before. All of that was actually easier than expected, except for the kind of creepy walk over to War Memorial from the parking lot I’d parked in, which was creepy because I was by myself and it was misty and I was walking by a slightly creepy area. But I quickly ran into some other RA fans headed toward the show and walked with their group.
I had actually bought a seat for the concert rather than general admission because being smooshed against 400 other people who I don’t know for hours isn’t my idea of fun. I quickly found my seat, which ended up being very close to the side of the stage and had a GREAT view. Suddenly, I was energized by the fact that I was here and I was going to get to see this concert. Black mood started to lift, if I was still uber tired. I decided to go get a T-shirt, because I just NEEDED one, then settled in all by my lonesome for my solo show.
Then, it was 8:30 p.m. Showtime. And nothing happened. Around 8:45 p.m. the guys came out on stage, introduced by Ryan simply as: “We’re the Cardinals.” Yes, but you’re RYAN ADAMS! I’m in the same room as RYAN ADAMS!
They started with Beautiful Sorta, did some Cardinology cuts live (sigh), then came “Come Pick Me Up,” which really made my night. Then there was “Two,” quickly followed by a Neal Casal song (that honestly, I didn’t know and tried to pay attention to, but I was here to see RA and the Cardinals and the whole sharing lead singer duty thing is difficult when it’s RA that most people are there to see). Cobwebs was amazing, as was the random banter about Foreigner, the Eagles, and the soul of rock n’ roll being problem-solving. At this point, Drunk Guy next to me comments on how weird all this chatter is (which it was, but oddly amusing since it was apparent RA was in a great mood and these guys genuinely enjoy working together). I resisted the urge to tell Drunk Guy he was weird since he was in the middle of taking off his sweater because he was hot. Not as in HOTT, but as in sweaty, icky hot. I laughed inwardly and moved over toward the aisle side of my chair.
“Let It Ride” was amazing, and I’ve always liked that song because of the Nashville references. Ryan made reference to these (and his chagrin about the line at Jack’s BBQ on a Saturday afternoon—try to go there during CMA fest, Ryan. It’s CHAOS!). Other song highlights for me were “Everybody Knows,” a song from Easy Tiger that I love, “When Stars Go Blue” plus discussion about “Cowboy Man” recording the song (Tim McGraw, who I insist cannot sing and is only slightly listenable because of ProTools). “Peaceful Valley” was absolutely amazing with the the harmonies and I sort of sat there in dazed amazement at how good this sounded! It was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking and I wish I had a bootleg of it because the album version will never be the same again!
After awhile, RA got Jon Graboff to play the guitar and just sang. He did “Rescue Blues” (AMAZING) and “Oh my God whatever, etc.” with Graboff on the guitar. This freed Ryan up to *ahem* “dance” and hop up on the piano and act silly. This is also the moment when I realize RA is indeed wearing a wedding band. I look around for any Mandy Moore sightings. Could she be here? Backstage perhaps?
I was so happy to hear “Oh, My Sweet Carolina,” and am not embarrassed to admit that I sang along and did the harmony parts on the chorus because I. love. that. song. And then came “Crossed-out Name” (yay!), “Wonderwall” (haunting and perfect); and Magick. Which it was. (I don’t understand this song, but I love it. It’s my ringtone. I am that lame.)
But the most perfect thing of the night was the encore: “Magnolia Mountain.” I really didn’t expect that one, since I really didn’t know if they performed it in concert often, and RA prefaced it with “We haven’t played this song in a long time.” It was the perfect cap to a great concert, even if I did have Drunk Guy sitting next to me (who really was quite entertaining and liked to chat with me.
• Random dude yelling out “Congratulations” to RA over the opening bars of “Come Pick Me Up.”
• The guy who was making every song, even the slow ones, a full-body dance experience in the front row of the general admission crowd.
• This experience: At the end of the show, before the encore, RA thanked the crowd and the Cardinals all stood on stage and acknowledged each other and the crowd. Neal Casal, who was standing closest to where I was sitting, looked up in the balcony crowd and gave a point. I made eye contact and clapped harder. Drunk Guy says, “I think he just pointed at you.” I was like, huh? Um, no, he pointed in our general direction. Drunk Guy: “I think he pointed at you. Neal, not Ryan. Do you know him?” I demurred and said that I didn’t, but Drunk Guy was insistent Neal’s point into the crowd was for me. I wanted to laugh because it wasn’t. But now, I’ve decided to just say that it was. Because I am so HOTT that I attract Neal Casal’s attention from my seat in the balcony. Maybe he’ll write a song about me. The girl in the balcony next to the drunk guy.