He is faultless tonight
Ryan Adams

And so, everybody – well, anyone acquainted with Ryan Adams infamous temperament – waits with baited breath as someone shouts “Summer of 69, Bryan.”

Ripples of “He’s going to walk off” start, he walks to the microphone, sighs and says “I’m deaf you know, you can come right up to my face and blah, blah, blah, I still wont hear a word.” And with that peculiarly mature response, you know it’s going to be a good Ryan night.

He is faultless tonight – questionable calypso dancing and Luther Vandross debates aside. The Cardinals are a well-rehearsed unit and resplendently suited and booted against Adam’s hobo chic – consistently hypnotic, vibrant drumming, jangling guitars and Garboff’s sweet, wailing slide guitar and despite the enormity of the venue, they still manage to create an intimate atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re watching a band jamming in someone’s front room. Probably a basement flat though. Cardinal’s guitarist, Neal Casal is the perfect foil for Ryan - Yin to Yang, Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde, Moon to Noir…His rootsy blues guitar earths Ryan’s epic rock histrionics just before they go into orbit.

Their voices mingle and slide beautifully together and in songs like “Peaceful Valley’ and “Cold Roses” they create harmonies so fragile and almost sacred that you are scared to breathe for fear of shattering them. Closing song, ‘Shakedown on 9th Street’ – a rollicking country-rock hybrid strewn with strobe lights feels like, and you hope, it will never end with Ryan providing a provocative solo.

To see him live is to fully appreciate his voice, so full of violence – in the space of a verse he can shower you with rose petals, and then be spiting thorns at you. And that is a special quality. Whatever his social ineptness’, his performance tonight was of a different calibre, a different era – it made you nostalgic for a time of music gone by.

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