Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ryan Adams Returns To The Catalyst

Sporting one more amp, and one less piano, Ryan Adams and The Cardinals rolled into Santa Cruz last night for a return show at The Catalyst. While it had a lot of technical similarities to last summer's show, we'd be inclined to say the feel was entirely different.

While last summer's show was a lengthy, sweaty jam played to a full house with tons of new material, last night's show was a much more controlled and regimented version of the Cardinals, as has been the norm over the past few months. The band played through a very similar setlist to what was seen in Marin and Berkeley, and was promptly on stage at 8, off before 11.

While the show was enjoyable, and the musicianship tight, there was an element of spontaneity that was sadly lacking. We here at H.A.D. were hoping that a return to the Catalyst would provide a similarly crazy setlist to last summer, but apparently that was a one-off inspired by the first time the Cardinals "went electric" on this tour. To Adams' credit, he said during the show that he made sure they returned to the Catalyst because he had so much fun last summer. And, to be honest, the current Cardinals' setlist, even if a bit stale, was much, much, more enjoyable in a stand-up club atmosphere.

The set started off blazing, with a rocked out version of Peaceful Valley followed by the 1-2-3 attack of "Beautiful Sorta", "Shakedown on 9th Street", and the (now standard) reworked version of "Bartering Lines". At that point, the show chilled out for a while and adopted a pretty steady rhythm of "start the song normally, then kick it out into a jam". This continued until the end of the first set, which concluded with a drastically reworked version of "Off Broadway"

The second set was largely a straight forward delivery of songs, with the exception being the closer. A feedback and distortion drenched version of "Easy Plateau" appeared to leave guitarist Neal Casal quite bewildered as what to do when he couldn't find a note as Adams bent, twisted, and detuned the strings of his guitar into a cacophony of noise. This scene probably best illustrated the fact that Casal is the driver behind the Cardinals current "neat and clean" vibe. He clearly has been directing Adams in this direction for a while, so we here at H.A.D. thought it was nice to see a bit of guitaring more reminiscent of "Fuck The Universe" than that of the Grateful Dead. Surprisingly, most of the audience (Is it because of Santa Cruz, or is the tide shifting?) seemed right in line with Casal, and seemed strongly fixated on Adams' more recent work and "jammy" tunes.

Ah, well. We're pretty sure that sort of thing won't hold up forever. Adams is far too multi-faceted to get bogged down in jammyness for the rest of his days. In the meantime, we're certainly psyched to catch the band in a small club and hear some awesome guitary goodness.

Peaceful Valley
Beautiful Sorta
Shakedown On 9th Street
Bartering Lines
A Kiss Before I Go

Cold Roses

Freeway To The Canyon (Neil Casal song)


Off Broadway


Why Do They Leave

Everybody Knows
I See Monsters
The End

Please Do Not Let Me Go

Goodnight Rose

Easy Plateau

Magnolia Mountain->

Blue Hotel

Many, many, more photos at the H.A.D. flickr feed.