Ryan Adams’ trailblazing ‘alt-country’ band captured live at the peak of their powers.
Even though he has fallen from grace in recent years and the ‘person v their art’ debate has been had, if not resolved, there is no doubt that Ryan Adams has been a very significant figure in this music that we all love. He first came to our attention as the main man in Whiskeytown. I was fortunate enough to see that band at Manchester’s Hop and Grape in the late 1990s and despite a rather thin crowd, the show still rates as one of my favourites. It was clear that we were witnessing a special talent but with some of the irascible on-stage behaviour, it was also evident even then, that Adams was flawed. Thats not to say his later actions could have been forseen, more that he walked a tightrope between enigmatic genius and intolerable bore. His edginess fed into his music giving it an honesty that could be both tender or brutal. Love him or loathe him, Adams’ music mattered and I would suggest, still does.
The clip from 1998 features Whiskeytown performing ‘Houses on the Hill’ from their 1997 album ‘Starnger’s Almanac’, for many the pinnicle of the band’s achievement.
Such a great song from a flawed performer. I’ve seen him three times, twice with the Cardinals. At the last one I felt like demanding my money back it was so bad. In his first solo tour he was attacked verbally in Newcastle by a very disgruntled fan. But I saw him at Hammersmith on that tour and he was pretty good. Pneumonia is a decent Whiskeytown album and Jacksonvill Skyline a great song.