Admittedly, I was not completely up for this concert. I could claim tiredness, Monday blues or whatever, but the fact is I just wasn’t feeling it. Having had no joy selling the tickets, the only option remaining was to force my head into the right space. By 8pm, I was rather looking forward to the show. One or two Guinness for me, a couple of hot whiskeys for Orla, in Brogan’s and we’re there. About 20:40 the place clears out leaving us and the bar staff. It’s our cue to head into the Olympia, having completely lost track of time.
Right before Ryan Adams comes on stage a lady appears to inform us that Mr. Adams suffers from Ménière’s disease and that they ask that people don’t take photos with flash or even that red dot that appears right before the shutter closes on some cameras. She says he has had to stop shows before because of individuals not respecting this. It’s a little like being in school, and having the rules read before we can start. It’s a totally ineffective way of trying to ensure compliance. A few signs at some key points would have been far more effective, especially for those still in the bar and in deep conversation. The inevitable flashes are quite obvious, though probably less frequent than normal.
Ryan Adams is a man of few words, at least on the evidence of this performance. A couple of songs in he jokes ‘I can’t talk to you right now, I’m at work’. Which seems like a funny quip initially, but then turns out to be a precursor for the night. Very little atmosphere and a sort of drama queen leading an average band. You could argue I have no talent to give me right to criticise, but I’m not charging €50 to hear me unenthusiastically get through my ‘work’.
The atmosphere was weird. Un-electric, if that’s a thing. The crowd; one of those that must hear itself over a potentially moving moment. You could never hear a pin drop at a concert in Ireland. There’s always some loud mouth pitching in, giving his two cents or telling a joke no one wants to hear. Cat calls during a solo piece, like the person had never been out before. That said, none of the performers made any attempts to shake it up or build any kind of momentum. Happy to earn their shilling or maybe just trying real hard to be cool.
There’s an unusual but familiar aroma present throughout. Orla cops an assistant come from off stage with a smoking bowl. Then the penny drops as bowl after bowl of incense appears to assault the senses. Nothing like reminding the audience of mass, at a gig in Ireland. Maybe this is his last gig, sort of a funeral of the tour…..but, then they are playing tomorrow too?!?
By the end, Ryan Adams and band ploughed through twenty four songs, pretty much gapless. I just wanted it to be over even when we had plenty of songs I had previously wanted to hear live still to come. In what could only be described as somewhat of a ‘This is Spinal Tap’ scene, the most enthusiastic thing on stage goes into overdrive. The smoke machine fills the Olympia, to the point of setting off the fire alarm as we shuffle out.