Written by Eddie Ferranti
Oct 14, 2008 at 08:00 PM
ImageHad some good music buddies of mine steer me to a gig at the Verizon in Houston recently. I had heard of Ryan Adams, but never caught him live until this evening when he rolled into town with his latest project, The Cardinals.

He has been playing with different line ups the last 2 years or so, but this was the first time they came without his name in the title promoting “Cardinology”. This is their third album together and their tightness was evident. Adams’ sound is pigeon holed into a alt-contry/rock singer songwriter mode. This reviewer felt like I was seeing a melting together of early Cure and the Grateful Dead if you will. Dude even sounds a bit like Robert Smith to me, and was sporting wild ass hair, too.

I think Ryan has finally found the sound he wants from this group. Mr.Adams hooked me up with killer seats in Row G which enabled me to absorb the gig fully. Overall, I thought the first set was strong. Neil Casal on guitar and vocals perfectly fits with Ryan. Both of their guitar work, especially Adams, are underrated. And his voice range is pretty incredible. Thru the first three tunes of “Goodnight Rose”, “Bartering Lines” and the first single “Fix It” the gig was already sweet.

Other killer highlights were “Come Pick Me Up”, “Cold Roses” and “Rescue Blues”. Brad Pemberton hammered out a melodic mashing backbone spooky beat on the skins that really held this show together from start to finish. These guys played 24 songs total and that is beyond your money’s worth, but left out some killer tunes that I thought would of brought the house down.  No “New York, New York” or “To Be Young”. The overall pace of the second set slowed with ballads and Dead like jam sessions that got a bit weak. Maybe it was because Ryan was under the weather a bit that he came across a bit bratty and stuck to jamming.

I cannot let him slide either for thee overall lighting. Not only was it hard for selfish reasons to get ANY pics, but the entire gig was presented in “lava lamp” type swirling reds, blues and greens. Maybe they should of sold acid at the door…It definitely was a psychadelic show!

Ryan has been in the biz since 1994 and with a resume that includes Whiskeytown and a solo career that has drawn comparisons to Gram Parsons, this guy will be a force for years to come both in his playing ability and his talents in producing albums.  I know I want to grab that “Cardinology” disc as soon as it comes out…Enjoy live music folks!