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Monday, January 14, 2013

Live After Deaf


(Pax-Am Records 014-029)
Released 6/15/12

"LIVE AFTER DEAF chronicles the 15-date June 2011 UK/Europe tour that marked Ryan’s return to live performance. Sandwiched between the completion of his acclaimed Ashes & Fire and its October 2011 release, the shows were the first of a solo acoustic tour featuring Adams performing to arguably the best reviews of his career–The New York Times called it a “Gorgeously hushed communion… One slow, perfectly poised song after another” while the SF Weekly raved “Shows rarely get more revealing — or more engaging — than this.” With setlists featuring tracks covering the breadth his career – from Whiskeytown through early solo landmarks Heartbreaker and Gold to the Cardinals era and about-to-be-released material from Ashes & Fire–RYAN ADAMS’ LIVE AFTER DEAF is a rare and intimate document of an artist reconnecting both with his fans and his own body of work. Now, in celebration of its one-year-anniversary, LIVE AFTER DEAF provides fans a way to re-live that tour–or experience for the first time." (from the Pax-Am Records Website)

Produced by Ryan Adams
Recording by Kris Poulin
Post-Mix by Ryan Adams and assisted by Mike Edge


Background and Review

The first live collection in Ryan Adams' long and prolific career was well worth the wait. These 15 LPs and 218 tracks document his first solo tour in more than five years and features some of the most consistent, focused, and well played shows of his entire career. On top of that, the sound quality on these recordings is phenomenal! 

Completely unplugged, these solo shows include many songs that were played live for the first time ever! Fans were given a first taste of the at-the-time unreleased Ashes and Fire album, as well as classic Whiskeytown songs, and deep cuts like "Cannonball Days" (a bonus track on Gold), "Halloween" (bonus cut from Love is Hell)and "Withering Heights" (from Jacksonville City Nights). Many of the more well known songs are re-arranged. "New York New York" is slowed down and played as a crooner piano ballad. While stripped down versions of songs like "Crossed Out Name" and "Two"  shed new light on the Adams' catalogue and craft as a songwriter.

These shows also feature plenty of funny banter and songs made up on the spot. "Goodnight Bob" from the Glasgow show is a classic improv folk song about the disgruntled owner of a laundromat. While the show in Porto features a black metal/prog-rock/disco jam titled "Jesus/Cougar", and "Mr. Booger Man" - a funky number started after Ryan stops to blow his nose.

There's TONS of material to listen through on this compilation and Yes there are plenty of song repeats (including ten versions of "Everybody Knows", and nine of "New York New York", and "Desire"). Even if this set seems a little overwhelming to the casual listener, still there's plenty of essential songs at least worth downloading. (Below I've written reviews of each show as well as listed highlights to give you a better grasp of the 16+ hour behemeth)

My only complaint about this set was that I wish Ryan would have included "I Taught Myself How to Grow Old" from the Malmo show. This was the only song played on the tour not represented on Live After Deaf and happens to be among my favorites! Besides that Live After Deaf is more than a worthy addition to the Ryan Adams discography. 


Other Versions/Bonus Cuts Worth Checking Out

Live After Deaf was released as a 15 LP limited edition set in June of 2012. The LPs featured 144 tracks plus a download card which gave buyers the ability to download 74 more bonus tracks. 

Not long after these sold out, Pax-Am Records released digital versions of the collection which including all of the songs found on the 15 LPs as well as 30 of the 74 bonus tracks. You can also purchase them as individual shows through iTunes and Amazon.


LP #1
June 7th, 2011
Cork Opera House, Cork, Ireland

Side A: Dirty Rain/Two/Blue Hotel/Carolina Rain/Crossed Out Name

Side B: Dear Chicago/Ashes and Fire/Avenues/Withering Heights/Desire/Please Do Not Let Me Go

Bonus Tracks: Sylvia Plath/Let it Ride/Damn Sam/Everybody Knows

Not Included: (4 Songs) - Oh My Sweet Carolina/If I Am a Stranger/Firecracker/New York New York

Opening night of the tour and first live show Ryan has played since April 21st of the year. The performance here is excellent but it's clear Ryan seems to be dealing with some opening night jitters. Despite that, the set list is full of surprises! Withering Heights makes its' live debut, a few make their solo performance debuts (If I Am a Stranger/Carolina Rain/Crossed Out Name/Ashes and Fire); and others are played for the first time in at least 6 years (Avenues/Firecracker)! This is a great performance with a solid set list, but if you're looking for wisecracks, improv songs, and Ryan's usual goofy stage banter, you won't find it here.

4 out of 5 stars

Highlights - Carolina Rain, Crossed Out Name, Avenues, Withering Heights, Damn Sam

First Time Solo - If I Am a Stranger, Carolina Rain, Crossed Out Name, Ashes and Fire
First Time Ever - Withering Heights
First Time since…. - Firecracker (06') Avenues (05' secret Whiskeytown show)



LP #2
June 8th, 2011
The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Ireland

Side A: Oh My Sweet Carolina/Everybody Knows/Damn Sam/New York New York

Side B: In My Time of Need/Mr. Man Improv/16 Days/Strawberry Wine

Bonus Tracks: Let it Ride/Withering Heights/Two/Sylvia Plath/Firecracker/If I Am a Stranger/DirtyRain/Desire/Bartering Lines

Not Included: (1 Song) - Call Me on Your Way Back Home

Ryan followed up a solid but jittery opening night, with one of his better shows of the tour. His vocals are much better tonight; and it's easy to hear he's excited to be playing for an always exuberant  Dublin audience. The crowd was treated to a setlist heavy on songs from Heartbreaker, and unexpected rarities like "16 Days". There were also some funny, light hearted moments as well. At one point of the show, some people started getting up to leave. Ryan plays a short improv tune in response called "Mr. Man". 

4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars

Highlights - Damn Sam, New York New York, In My Time of Need, 16 Days, Strawberry Wine, Two

First Time since….  In My Time of Need (05'), 16 Days (05')



LP #3
June 10th, 2011
Cirkus, Stockholm, Sweden

Side A: Firecracker/Please Do Not Let Me Go/Call Me on Your Way Back Home/Invisible Riverside/Dear Chicago

Side B: 16 Days/Two/Come Pick Me Up/September/Halloween/Houses on the Hill

Bonus Tracks: Blue Hotel/Damn Sam/Desire/Everybody Knows/Oh My Sweet Carolina

Not Included: (5 Songs) - If I Am a Stranger/New York New York/Let it Ride/Sylvia Plath/My Winding Wheel

So I was planning to rate this show a solid 4 and a half stars out of 5 until I heard the encore…….. Holy Crap! This is easily one of the best concerts of the tour mainly because of the surprising songs that close the show ("September", "Halloween", and "Houses on the Hill"). All three songs had rarely if ever been played at a solo show and would turn up on almost any fan's dream setlist! As far as the rest of the gig went, Ryan seems pretty laid back but focused. He cracks some jokes throughout but they never seem to clog up the flow of the set.

5 out of 5

Highlights - Call Me on Your Way Back Home, Invisible Riverside, 16 Days, September, Halloween, Blue Hotel, Damn Sam

First Time Solo - September
First Time Ever - Halloween
First Time Since….  - Houses on the Hill (06')



LP #4
June 11th, 2011
Kolketeatret, Oslo, Norway

Side A: Oh My Sweet Carolina/Don't Fail Me Now/Let it Ride/Desire/Rescue Blues

Side B: Dancing with the Women at the Bar/If I Am a Stranger/Sylvia Plath/Friends

Bonus Tracks: Blue Hotel/Come Pick Me Up/Please Do Not Let Me Go/This House is Not for Sale/Two

Not Included: (3 Songs) - Crossed Out Name/Everybody Knows/16 Days

Despite some great guitar playing and nice surprises like "Friends" and "This House is Not for Sale", the Oslo performance is slightly underwhelming. Tonight's setlist seems extra heavy on sad bastard songs. As a result Ryan's voice rarely jumps out at you and soars like other shows on the tour. On top of that there is very little crowd interaction or goofing around. Still, it's good enough for 4 stars though.

4 out of 5

Highlights - Don't Fail Me Now, Desire, The Rescue Blues, Sylvia Plath, Friends

First Time Solo - This House is Not for Sale 
First Time Since…. Don't Fail Me Now (05'), Dancing with the Women at the Bar (05' secret Whiskeytown show), Friends (02')



LP #5
June 13th, 2011
The Concert House, Malmo, Sweden

Side A: Firecracker/Damn Sam/My Winding Wheel/Let it Ride/Desire

Side B: Cannonball Days/Star Sign/Chains of Love/Lucky Now/Come Home

Bonus Tracks: Oh My Sweet Carolina/Don't Fail Me Now

Not Included: (8 Songs) - I Taught Myself How to Grow Old/New York New York/Invisible Riverside/English Girls Approximately/Dirty Rain/If I Am a Stranger/Ashes and Fire/Do I Wait

Malmo is another contender for best show of the tour! Ryan treats the crowd to eight brand spanking' new songs from the yet to be released Ashes and Fire album. Unfortunately only four are included but they're excellent nonetheless. Ryan had a day off before this show and it sounds like he worked hard to tweak the set list. Tonight everything seems to flow better and his playing and singing have never sounded stronger. There isn't much banter tonight, but plenty of rarely played gems. Besides playing over half of the new album, "Cannonball Days"  (a bonus track from 2001's Gold album) makes its' live debut and "Don't Fail Me Now" makes only its 2nd appearance of the tour. My one and only complaint about this LP is why did he have to leave off the one and only performance ever of "I Taught Myself How to Grow Old"??

5 out of 5

Highlights - Firecracker, Damn Sam, My Winding Wheel, Cannonball Days, Star Sign, Chains of Love, Come Home, Don't Fail Me Now

First Time Ever- Cannonball Days, Star Sign, Chains of Love, Come Home, Do I Wait (not included), I Taught Myself How to Grow Old (not included)
First Time Since…. - English Girls Approximately (02')


LP #6
June 14th, 2011
Koncerhauset, Copenhagen, Denmark

Side A: Carolina Rain/Invisible Riverside/Jacksonville Skyline/This House is Not for Sale/Halloween

Side B: New York New York/Sweet Illusions/September/Sylvia Plath/Do I Wait

Bonus Tracks: Everybody Knows/Let it Ride/If I Am a Stranger/Dancing with the Women at the Bar/16 Days

Not Included: (3 Songs) - Oh My Sweet Carolina/Two/English Girls Approximately

There's not much else to say about this show but absolutely perfect! A dream setlist with phenomenal and focused singing/playing from start to finish. Easily one of the best (if not the best) show(s) of the tour.

5 out of 5

Highlights - Carolina Rain, Invisible Riverside, Jacksonville Skyline, This House is Not for Sale, Halloween, New York New York, Sylvia Plath, If I Am a Stranger, Everybody Knows

First Time Since…. - Jacksonville Skyline (05'), Sweet Illusions (06')



LP #7
June 16th, 2011
Aula Magna, Lisbon, Portugal

Side A: Don't Fail Me Now/If I Am a Stranger/Invisible Riverside/200 More Miles 

Side B: This House is Not for Sale/English Girls Approximately/Strawberry Wine/I Love You But I Don't Know What to Say

Bonus Tracks: 16 Days/Come Home/Desire/Do I Wait/Everybody Knows/New York New York/Please Do Not Let Me Go

Not Included: (3 Songs) Oh My Sweet Carolina/Firecracker/Come Pick Me Up

This is a nice set list but where are the vocals? Overall, Ryan's voice seems a little quiet and lacks the "oomph" of other nights on the tour. But despite that, Lisbon is treated to the only appearances on the tour of the Cowboy Junkies cover - "200 More Miles" and the new Ashes and Fire track "I Love You But I Don't Know What to Say".

4 out of 5

Highlights - Don't Fail Me Now, 200 More Miles, I Love You But I Don't Know What to Say

First Time Solo - 200 More Miles



LP #8
June 17th, 2011
Teatro Sa Da Bandeira, Porto, Portugal

Side A: Off Broadway/Sylvia Plath/Carolina Rain/Firecracker/ Mr. Booger Man (improv)

Side B: Damn Sam/Sweet Illusions/Two/Dancing with the Women at the Bar/ Jesus - Cougar Improv

Bonus Songs: If I Am a Stranger/Please Do Not Let Me Go/New York New York/Everybody Knows/Blue Hotel

Not Included: (3 Songs) - Oh My Sweet Carolina/Dirty Rain/Let it Ride

If you're looking for a hilarious show from the tour, look no further than the Porto show! Ryan is full of energy and plays some classic, funny improv tunes. The first (titled "Mr. Booger Man") starts after Ryan complained of needing to blow out a snot-rocket during "Firecracker" and somehow incorporates singer - Jamiroquai in the lyrics. The second which is a medley titled "Jesus/Cougar" starts after a fan yells out a request for the song "Jesus" from Love is Hell. Ryan goes into punk jam which then leads into a funky disco song. Despite all the craziness, he still manages to pull himself together and perform a short but very sweet set. There aren't as many rarely played surprise songs tonight but the show does feature the one and only performance of "Off Broadway" on the entire Ashes and Fire tour.

5 out of 5

Highlights - Off Broadway, Firecracker, Mr. Booger Man Improv, Damn Sam, Sweet Illusions, Dancing with the Women at the Bar, Jesus/Cougar Improv, Blue Hotel

First Time Solo - Off Broadway



LP #9
June 19th, 2011
Barbican, London, United Kingdom - Night 1

Side A: Oh My Sweet Carolina/Why Do They Leave?/Let it Ride/Carolina Rain

Side B: The Rescue Blues/In My Time of Need/Bartering Lines/Dramedy Lighting Improv/Come Pick Me Up

Bonus Tracks: Desire/Dirty Rain/Houses on the Hill/Invisible Riverside/New York New York/Sylvia Plath

Not Included: (5 Songs) - Please Do Not Let Me Go/My Winding Wheel/Firecracker/Everybody Knows/Strawberry Wine

Judging from the recording, London is ecstatic to have Ryan Adams back again. The first night in London is pretty solid overall, although tonight the jokes sound a little forced and some of the timing/strumming/singing seems to be a little "off" occasionally. Judging from reviews, Ryan was being barraged with song requests for most of the show. Tonight, the set list is heavy on Heartbreaker and includes some tunes rarely played on the tour including "In My Time of Need" and "Bartering Lines". Ryan also does a brief black metal improv to get the crew's attention to turn down the lights.

4.5 out of 5

Highlights - Why Do They Leave, In My Time of Need, Bartering Lines, Come Pick Me Up, Desire, Houses on the Hill



LP #10
June 20th, 2011
Barbican, London, United Kingdom - Night 2

Side A: To Be Young/Damn Sam/Everybody Knows/My Winding Wheel/Invisible Riverside

Side B: Ashes and Fire/Desire/English Girls Approximately/Amy/Stop

Bonus Tracks: 16 Days/Firecracker/If I Am a Stranger/Oh My Sweet Carolina/Two

Not Included: (5 Songs) - New York New York/Let it Ride/The Rescue Blues/Blue Hotel/This House is Not for Sale

Night 2 in London is even better than the first! Overall, the crowd seems more respectful and Ryan's more relaxed. There are also a couple of unexpected surprises in the set. Ryan debuts the Cardinology closing track - "Stop", and dusts off an old classic - "AMY" for the first time since 2006. During the encore, Ryan came out in a black hooded cape as "Ghorgon" and finished the evening playing an improv tune, but sadly it was left off the recording.

5 out of 5 

Highlights - Damn Sam, Everybody Knows, Invisible Riverside, Ashes and Fire, Desire, English Girls Approximately, AMY, Stop. Oh My Sweet Carolina

First Time Solo - Stop
First Time Since….. Amy (06')


LP #11
June 22nd, 2011
Dome, Brighton, United Kingdom

Side A: Bartering Lines/Why Do They Leave?/The Rescue Blues/Let it Ride/Everybody Knows

Side B: Firecracker/Jacksonville Skyline/Houses on the Hill/Come Pick Me Up/Strawberry Wine

Bonus Tracks:  Invisible Riverside/Sylvia Plath/Two

Not Included: (5 Songs) - To Be Young/Oh My Sweet Carolina/My Winding Wheel/Call Me on Your Way Back Home/New York New York

If you're looking for a show from this tour that features lots of songs from Heartbreaker and the days of Whiskeytown, this might be the one to get. There are no surprises or rarities in the set tonight, but half of the songs played are from 2000 or before. Ryan gets off to a great start tonight but then his playing starts to get a bit sloppy (hitting the occasional wrong chords, stopping at times because he forgets a line here or there, etc). Still though, he's pretty funny and puts on an entertaining show. He also does a couple improvs including one on the importance of drinking orange juice.

3.5 out of 5

Highlights - Bartering Lines, Why Do They Leave, The Rescue Blues, Jacksonville Skyline



LP #12
June 23rd, 2011
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, United Kingdom

Side A: Blue Hotel/Save Me/Carolina Rain/Sweet Lil' Gal/Desire

Side B: To Be Young/This House is Not for Sale/New York New York/Amy/Why Do They Leave

Bonus Tracks: Dirty Rain/English Girls Approximately/Firecracker/If I Am a Stranger/Two

Not Included: (3 Songs) - Oh My Sweet Carolina/ Everybody Knows/Let it Ride

I'm not sure if Noel Gallagher or Morrissey were in the audience tonight or what, but Ryan is amazing in Manchester! Adams is all business and extremely focused on stage. There's very little interaction with the crowd, which is something I tend to dislike when listening to a live show; but the performance is so stunning that it doesn't matter. His vocals sound better than ever, as he adds new inflections to the melody of "Blue Hotel" and "AMY", and gives an emotional outpouring on "Why Do They Leave" and the rarely played "Sweet Lil Gal". The setlist is killer tonight and includes the one and only performance (as of 12/9/12) of Ashes and Fire track - "Save Me". This may be the best show of the tour!

5 out of 5

Highlights - Blue Hotel, Save Me, Carolina Rain, Sweet Lil Gal, Desire, To Be Young, This House is Not for Sale, New York New York, AMY, Why Do They Leave, English Girls Approximately, If I Am a Stranger (basically everything!)

First Time Played - Save Me



LP #13
June 25th, 2011
Academy. Glasgow, United Kingdom

Side A: Please Do Not Let Me Go/My Winding Wheel/Sweet Illusions/To Be Young

Side B: 16 Days/Sylvia Plath/Come Pick Me Up/English Girls Approximately

Bonus Tracks: Why Do They Leave/Carolina Rain/Dear Chicago/Everybody Knows/New York New York/Blue Hotel

Not Included: (11 Songs) - Oh My Sweet Carolina/If I Am a Stranger/Firecracker/Let it Ride/Desire/Two/The Rescue Blues/This House is Not for Sale/September/Halloween/Jacksonville Skyline

Despite being one the longest solo show of Ryan's career at 26 songs and 2 and 1/2 hours, the Glasgow performance was unfortunately not one of his best. There are occasional highlights, but in general Ryan's performances seem unfocused and never really jumps out at the listener like other shows from this tour. Still it's a bit hard to make a proper judgement of the show when 11 of the songs played that night were left off the recording (including such rarities as "September" and "Halloween"). With all complaints aside, the Glasgow show does feature one of Ryan's very best improv songs ever with "Goodnight Bob" and a really incredible set list! 

4 out of 5

Highlights - My Winding Wheel, To Be Young, Goodnight Bob, Why Do They Leave, Carolina Rain, Blue Hotel



LP #14
June 26th, 2011
Oxford New Theatre, Oxford, United Kingdom

Side A: Why Do They Leave?/Carolina Rain/Sweet Lil Gal/Everybody Knows/September

Side B: My Winding Wheel/I See Monsters/Come Pick Me Up/Strawberry Wine

Bonus Tracks: Blue Hotel/New York New York/Please Do Not Let Me Go/To Be Young/Two

Not Included: (5 Songs) - Oh My Sweet Carolina/Firecracker/Do I Wait/Let it Ride/Desire

Despite some troubles with the stage monitors and very little crowd interaction, Ryan performs one of his better set lists of the Acoustic Nightmare tour. Slightly heavy on Heartbreaker songs, he plays heart-wrenching definitive versions of "Sweet Lil Gal" and "New York New York" as well as some rarely played gems (including his first solo performance of "I See Monsters" since 2006!).

4.5 out of 5

Highlights - Why Do They Leave, Carolina Rain, Sweet Lil Gal, September, I See Monsters, Strawberry Wine, Blue Hotel, New York New York, To Be Young



LP #15
June 28th, 2011
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Side A: Oh My Sweet Carolina/To Be Young/Carolina Rain/Firecracker/Let it Ride

Side B: Bartering Lines/New York New York/I See Monsters/Two/Stop

Bonus Tracks:  Blue Hotel/If I Am a Stranger

Not Included: (8 Songs) - My Winding Wheel/Why Do They Leave?/Everybody Knows/Sweet Lil' Gal/The Rescue Blues/Please Do Not Let Me Go/Come Pick Me Up/Strawberry Wine

A great ending to a stellar tour, Ryan Adams plays almost every song as if it were his last in Amsterdam. This "greatest hits" set features rare performances of "I See Monsters", an intense "Bartering Lines", and "Stop", and overall is more upbeat than other shows. One of the best shows of the tour, without question.

5 out of 5

Highlights - Oh My Sweet Carolina, To Be Young, Carolina Rain, Firecracker, Bartering Lines, New York New York, Two, Stop, If I Am a Stranger



3 comments:

  1. There were plenty of performances of I Taught Myself How to Grow Old from '07 and '08. Many of them were acoustic (although not solo).

    ReplyDelete
  2. yeah hearing it solo would have been key for me. those acoustic versions from 07' are awesome though!

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I Taught Myself" wasn't included because he messed up mid-way through.. A recording exists.

    ReplyDelete