Ryan Adams returned to Austin City Limits for a career spanning show on a beautiful autumn evening last Wednesday night. In fact, the show had to be split into two separate acoustic and electric sets to accommodate what has been a prolific songwriting career. This time, Ryan was promoting his new self-titled album that came out last summer. Austin has long been a supportive environment for the singer-songwriter type, and Adams is the modern standard of that idiom. Unsurprisingly, the crowd’s excitement was self-evident.
Adam’s acoustic set opened with his classic “Oh My Sweet Carolina” off his first album Heartbreaker. The 14-year old song was rendered new with Ryan’s delicate style, his voice coated in warm, lush reverb. Though in the past he’s been known to be an erratic, hostile performer, tonight he was aiming to please, playing songs off his biggest albums for the Moody Theater crowd. Between songs, he rattled off hilarious stage banter, recounting stories and acknowledging the distance he’s come when it comes to his behavior on and off stage.
After the acoustic set, Ryan brought out his backing band The Shining, along with a giant cardboard amp and an arcade pinball machine. The set followed a similar flow as the acoustic set, going between new and old favorites. Despite the breadth of his catalog, the audience kept up and received all the material rapturously. After all the crisscrossing, Adams ended the set by revisiting the song that put him on the map as a solo artist: “Come Pick Me Up.” Be sure to catch this remarkable taping early next year on PBS.
* Live photos courtesy of KLRU. All photos below by Scott Newton.