"Hell yeah! Alright! Looks like we're gonna have one of those nights."
Two songs in, Ryan Adams set the tone for his set at Red Butte garden.
The notoriously moody Adams was on his A-game and perhaps seeking redemption for his last Red Butte show. Dressed in a camouflage jacket he played against a backdrop of classic arcade games and Fender amps, and dived into his back catalog before a sell-out crowd of devout fans who sang along to nearly every song. (Adams regrettably stopped short of any Whiskeytown tunes.)
Adams began with “Gimme Something Good,” a track off his newest album and continued through a set that was both intimate — highlighted by beautiful renditions of “Winding Wheel” and “Sweet Carolina” that hushed the crowd — and raucous, with numbers like “New York, New York,” featuring Adams' guitar chops. Adams was engaging and personable throughout and this show was a far cry from the last time the singer song-writer played Red Butte and basically stormed off of the stage in a huff.
His infamous intolerance of concert chatters surfaced, of course, in urging people to quiet down, especially during the slow songs. But he rewarded the crowd with affirmations.
"That was amazing,” Adams said. "You're so thoughtful and kind." Noting hikers on the hill beyond the amphitheater, he acknowledged them, "I hope you're okay and safe from wolves." He paused and added, "I hope you're also safe from Danzig."
And he continued to be playful. Following an exchange with a band member about radioactive human waste and dining at the Red Iguana (you had to be there), they exchanged middle fingers.
But Adams proved he is not entirely a changed man, turning sarcastically on audience members who shouted requests: "Thank you for the requests. Also, I'd like to thank the universe for free will.” After one concert goer persisted in requesting a cover of Oasis' “Wonderwall,” Adams dryly retorted, "I will write the worst f***ing poem about you that you've ever read. The stationary will be elegant as f***."
He did, towards the end of the show, allow the audience to choose between “Peaceful Valley” or “I See Monsters” — which really is an audience request of sorts. When crowd voted ”I See Monsters,” Adams disapproved, “You guys are crazy. 'Peaceful Valley' is so much better. F*** you guys. I'm not playing that." But, in a sign of possible character development (or a sense of humor) for the temperamental singer — he did.
No encore capped the night, but after witnessing a 20-plus-song set featuring many highlights and fan favorites, rounded off with a lovely version of “Come Pick Me Up,” nobody seemed to mind.
"You're the f***ing best audience we've had,” Adams said. “The best.”