REVIEW: Ryan Adams and The Cardinals – August 2nd – The Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO

The Scene: This show was part of the R&R convention of AAA Radio programers that is held in Boulder during the first week of August every year. The convention attendees have badges that get them into the show and then a limited number of tickets are sold to the general public. As a result the show was heavy with industry people who were there to hear the music and not to chat with friends. A very nice thing when the show in question is acoustic and emotionally charged.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: When Adams and his band took the stage the crowd welcomed them enthusiastically. The six of them took up their stools along the front of the stage and, after brief hellos to the crowd, launched right into “The Sun Also Sets” from his latest release Easy Tiger.

From the first notes it was clear that this band was well versed and extremely talented. Adams voice was in excellent form and floated effortlessly on top of the acoustic instruments. During the handful of songs when he picked up a guitar, Adams and Cardinals guitarist Neal Casal layed down beautiful fills that wound together intricately to added a depth and beauty to the music that isn’t captured on the recorded version.

Adams stuck to the new disc for the second and third songs of the performance and delivered a passionate redition of “Goodnight Rose” followed up by the stellar “Oh My God, Whatever etc.” He then strayed from Easy Tiger and ventured back to his trio of 2005 releases for “Dear John” from “Jacksonville City Nights, “Let it Ride” off of Cold Roses and “Blue Sky Blues” from the least well recieved of the three, 29. Later in the set the band ran through the title track of Cold Roses to the delight of the crowd.

Throughout the evening Adams was on point, and his band was right behind him every step of the way. It is a real treat to see a band of this quality in such an intimate venue. The highlight of the evening for most came when the first notes of “Two” rang out. This may be the single off of Easy Tiger and as off-putting as that may be to some, it is one of the best songs in his cataloge. The phrasing and music compliment each other wonderfully and the sheer beauty of this song is hard to miss.

Adams closed out his 50 minute set with “Goodnight Hollywood Boulevard” from his Gold album and left the crowd wanting more. It was a short but very sweet set from one of the most talented bands out there today. Now if I only had been able to attend the electric performance that the band put on Friday night at Red Rocks . . . but alas I can’t make them all.

Energy: B+
Sound: A+
Musicianship: A+
Stage Presence: B+
Set/Light Show: B-

Overall: A-

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Who Is Timothy Dwenger

Music has always been a part of my life. It probably all started listening to old Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel records that my parents had, but it wasn't long before they were taking me to concerts like Starship, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Huey Lewis & The News. I got the bug to write about music after reviewing an Eric Clapton concert for a creative writing project in high school but didn't really take it up seriously until 2002. Since then I have published countless articles in The Marquee Magazine and done some work for Jambase.com, SPIN Magazine, and various other outlets. I started Listen Up Denver! as a way to share the music information that is constantly spilling out of my head with people who care. Please enjoy!