Live: Ryan Adams at Manchester O2 Apollo

Ryan Adams and The Unknown Band at Manchester O2 Apollo. Adams showcases his ability to engage and whisk away an audience. Read the live report here.
Posted: 15 September 2017 Words: Kerri Wynter
Ryan Adams' gigs are like no other, mainly because the crowd differs slightly from most. Middle-aged women stand at the barrier and heartbreak is the main theme that ties together the room full of strangers. Stories shared and a history of gigs and musical knowledge passed between the audience. Static interference fills the Manchester O2 Apollo as Ryan Adams and The Unknown Band take to the stage. Adams showcases his ability to engage and whisk away an audience, with a setlist keeping the crowd guessing what's next, and exaggerated instrumentals capture the room in the moment. Gigantic cardboard amplifiers and a pyramid of dated TVs stand centre stage. Alongside an array of stuffed animals, all from the cat family, which adds personality to the setup, and it seems as if Ryan Adams is the only person in the world that could pull this off. The TVs on stage illustrate images of outer-space linked to the stage backdrop, which mimics the night sky. References to the songs being played are also shown on screen, and a moment of beauty is created when blue lights are reflected off of a disco ball to transform the setting for Dancing When The Stars Go Blue. Adams reveals his humble side as he goes on to say the show feels "overproduced" when the lights flash towards the audience during I Just Might. His candour is charming and evidence that Adams sees the music at the heart of what makes a great live performance. Stepping forward to meet a microphone dressed in fairy-lights, Adams plays a stripped back version of Prisoner - the title track from his 2017 release, and later, perching himself on stage equipment to perform Broken Anyway; the extra personal touch brings the artist closer to the audience. The unexpected appearance of I Love You But I Don't Know What to Say is met with wolf-whistles from the audience, and covering a wide variety of songs from his discography with a 27 song long setlist undoubtedly offers a show that tries to please all. It's no question why Adams has developed such a dedicated fanbase with every show on the tour offering something different - be that in the form of the setlist or his famous onstage backchat. There's no doubt that Adams' arrogance is part of his charisma as he calls out hecklers by announcing "Now's your time to shine motherf**ker! Take as long as you want..." Together with the lack of phones and lights held aloft - due to Adams' Ménière's Disease - all adds to the grandness and uniqueness of the event.

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