You’d think he’d rent his clothing in agony, rubbed mustard on his face, and thrown live maggots on the audience or something from the emails I started receiving on Thursday. “Ryan Adams: Brilliant or Brat?” read one, “Total meltdown by your guy.” said another. While I genuinely appreciate tips keeping me on the ball (because I’m actually off it most of the time, left to my own devices), once I started clicking the links –the CNN homepage, the NME, from there to news outlets everywhere– I started shaking my head, saying to myself “These people do not know meltdown.”
I was not there so maybe I am missing something, but it seems hyperbolic to call what happened Wednesday at the Ryan Adams show in Minneapolis a meltdown, based on the facts I’ve heard. Perhaps it’s indicative of a slow news day combined with preconceived notions of Adams’ difficult persona in the past and a desire to resurrect that fun news angle. He’s unleashed way better vitriol, and way crazier ramblings than that during his off-the-wagon years. Sounds to me like he just got pissy with the sound levels, which is not a new thing. We know he cares passionately and fervently about his music, and seems to want the songs to get fair footing to be heard the way they’re intended. Now, regarding the pissiness towards the sound guys and the abbreviated set for the excited fans, I personally would probably follow my dad’s adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar” (yes, he actually says that) but it hardly sounds like front page international headline news that he has some irritability and doesn’t play an encore.
One writer nailed it after seeing him play a spectacular show in Madison the following night, and reflected on all the hoopla:
“Throw Ryan Adams a little slack. This is a guy whose bad day becomes a ticker tape item on CNN. He wants what the audience hears to be perfect, not some contorted version of his sound. Call it whiney, call it anal retentive, but really, it’s more like caring.
Adams is the first artist I’ve come across whose desire to do it right musically outweighed his desire to be superficially fawned over.”
On a brighter note, here’s what the new Ryan Adams EP Follow The Lights will look like when it comes out in three weeks: