'ACL' Live Shots

Ryan Adams

Zilker Park, Sunday, Sept. 29, 6:30pm

This writer may be in the minority, but this performance from "it boy" Ryan Adams had me longing for the days when his ex-band Whiskeytown would put on a caterwauling, highly unpredictable, and inspired show at Liberty Lunch. He started off strong with an enthusiastic rendition of "Nuclear," the first track on his new CD, Demolition. Yet before he left the stage an hour later, Adams managed to embarrass himself with a stage presence that consisted of goofy jokes, liberal use of the f-word, and references to sex and drugs. That, combined with a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" that would have been bested by almost any Austin bar band, and a set ending that devolved into a seemingly forced Guns n' Roses imitation, proved that Adams is as chameleon as ever, and that some changes just aren't for the best. The performance consisted mainly of tunes that were simply recycled Paul Westerberg at his self-centered worst -- most notably "Firecracker" from Gold, and a curious cover of the Grateful Dead's "Wharf Rat" ("the Grateful Dead, as punk as fuck" Adams announced afterward). Reports of recent shows had him acting much less like a prima donna, but this performance showed that perhaps he hasn't grown all that much after all.

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