I admit it, even though I had read the set lists from recent concerts and didn’t see my favorite Ryan Adams song, I still hoped Adams would play "Halloweenhead" during his almost sold-out show tonight at the Riverside.
But even though it is one of my favorite Adams songs – laced with memory and nostalgia for me as well as a seasonally appropriate tune being that it’s only two weeks before All Hallows Eve – he didn’t play it.
Not even when fans – other than myself – yelled out for it.
"I don’t f*cking remember that song. You’re going to have to find a way to love me anyway," Adams said.
Such was the tone of Adams’ extraordinarily solid and heartfelt show tonight. Known as eccentric and erratic – in both good and not so good ways – the prolific North Carolinian continues to serve up a hearty slice of the very best in roots, folk, rock and Americana. But the beauty and the curse of Adams is you never know what you’re going to get.
Recent reviews cited Adams as overly chatty and reflective, but tonight, he was the opposite – at least for the first half. As the show rolled on, Adams became more interactive with fans – in part, because of the number of audience members who felt compelled to shout out song requests and love messages, as well as a heckle or two.
One audience member, even though the joke is long over, yelled out the song request "Summer Of ’69" – requesting Canadian pop singer Bryan Adams’ ‘80s hit.
Most Adams fans are aware of the long-ago concert when a fan requested the same song and Adams, allegedly, out of frustration by the name similarity joke, had the fan removed. Tonight, Adams both refuted the accuracy of that assertion but also refrained from playing "Run To You," a Bryan Adams song he performed at the tour's previous stop.
To determine why Ryan Adams would suddenly cover a Bryan Adams' song is sheer folly. But those of us who go there anyway might suggest it’s a way for him to shrug off things from the past that no longer matter like they once did.
If anyone is an on-stage example of how complicated human beings really are – and that we are equally as flawed as beautiful – it is Adams. His combination of inconsistent persistence and talent has been made clear many times. Over the years, he released two or three records in a year or two, and then waited three years after the primarily acoustic, brilliant "Ashes & Fire" to release his 14th album, which is titled, simply, "Ryan Adams."
Throughout the tour he has played between 17 and 21 songs per night. Tonight, Adams – with the talents of his four-member band – delivered 19 songs, including new single "Gimme Something Good" as well as "I See Monsters" and "This House Is Not For Sale" (both from the beloved 2004 "Love Is Hell" album), "Let It Ride" (from the Ryan Adams & the Cardinals’ "Cold Roses" album), a deeply moving "Oh My Sweet Caroline" and another new tune, "Stay With Me."
Tonight’s stage featured ’80s video games (including Asteroids) and an impressive light show. Perhaps the juxtaposition suggested where we’ve been and where we’re going, technologically and emotionally.
Adams is best known for his prolific solo career, but he was a former member of alternative country band Whiskeytown, with whom he recorded three studio albums.
In 2000, Adams left Whiskeytown and released his first solo album, "Heartbreaker." He released five albums with the rock band The Cardinals and in 2009 he left The Cardinals and took a break from music.
He resumed performing in October 2010 and released his 13th studio album, "Ashes & Fire," in 2011 and in September, Adams released his latest album on his PAX AM label.
During Tuesday night's show, Adams provided both critique and gratitude for the Milwaukee audience. The constant yelling out by fans for songs he had no intention of playing inspired him to remind the audience that he was going to play what he was going to play, that the show was, as Adams reminded the crowd, "all predetermined."
At the same time, Adams was grateful to the audience. Perhaps a perception gleaned from aging and reflection.
"You are all weirdos," he said. "I love this town so f*cking much. You do it all and you do it with a coozie around it. It’s inspiring,"
Adams also tweeted about an hour after the show, "Hey, Pabst Theater! We haven't been more at home on this whole tour. Thank you for all that love!"
Gimme Something Good
Let It Ride
Stay With Me
This House Is Not For Sale
New York, New York
Seemingly impromptu song about a security guard at The Pabst; however, he has played modified versions at other shows
A Kiss Before I Go
When The Stars Go Blue
Do I Wait
Oh My Sweet Caroline
I See Monsters
La Cienega Just Smiled
Am I Safe?
Come Pick Me Up
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.