Ryan Adams at Massey Hall

Photographs by Lee-Ann Richer.

Following the release of Prisoner, his most acclaimed album in years, American singer-songwriter Ryan Adams and his band pulled into a sold out Massey Hall last night to deliver two hours of bliss to a very rabid fan base.

Opening with Prisoner opener “Do You Still Love Me?” Adams got off to a fiery start and he really wouldn’t let off the gas for the rest of the night.

The stage was adorned with many televisions, probably the most TVs I’ve seen on a stage since Bryan Adams’ “Somebody” video but I digress.  

Adams has a huge discography to pull from but over the course of the night he would touch on many of the albums, stretching back to his debut, 2000’s Heartbreaker which he’d go to right after the opening track with “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)”.

I’ve seen Adams many times over the years and this set was the heaviest I can recall.  The volume was immense but did not overwhelm Massey Hall.  His band’s playing was on point and Adams himself would combust into some serious fretwork throughout the night.  A few times he would bring the intensity down a bit and allow patrons to collect themselves as he would do a quiet acoustic number, like his fantastic cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”.

Highlight were many, but particularly strong was the new material and how it stood up against his older songs.  Honestly, the current trend of bands of the past playing their breakthrough albums in full could have worked here although Adams could have done it and I would have been happy with him playing Prisoner in its entirety, but “Prisoner”, “Haunted House” and “Outbound Train” were among the new highlights.

Adams himself was in a chipper and somewhat chatty mood, cracking out jokes about trying to find a B-side from the Prisoner sessions.  70-something songs turned into 20-something songs and before he launched into “Juli” he declared the reason we couldn’t find the song was that it didn’t exist.

The only gripe I’d have about the show was not hearing the devastating “Shiver and Shake” from his new album, a song he’s not offered up much on this tour.  But really to accommodate everything I would want to hear would mean Adams playing solid for about 8 hours, something I’m sure was echoed by everyone in attendance, but given the time he had he sure as hell delivered bang for our buck.

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