Ryan Adams & The Shining tour making headlines with covers and improvised songs

by Michael Niebuhr

The new Ryan Adams And The Shining logo

It’s only a week into the tour and Ryan Adams & The Shining have been making headlines with those amazing two Oasis covers, an improvised song about a spider in Detroit and, perhaps most surprising, a note on a record store door asking Ryan Adams to stay away if he’s in a bad mood.

I find it interesting how much more interested the music press is in these fairly blasé offerings from the tour, while the established press, i.e. local papers, are barely even reviewing the shows. A review or two in each city at best.

The Oasis covers are amazing. Ryan picked up a new guitar at Willie’s Guitars in Minneapolis that lends itself well to the Oasis sounds and I wonder if that’s the impetus for the covers. Someone mentioned that Ryan could hardly play Wonderwall after Noel Gallagher himself had performed it before him. But Wonderwall hasn’t been played since the solo show in Mexico last November, so that’s hardly an issue. I think the band were just having fun being able to stretch out for an evening, on this mainly festival run of shows at the beginning of the tour, and decided to work up something special for the second and last of the double headers with Noel Gallagher & His High-Flying Birds. An man was it special.

I was literally blown away by the energy of the room and the sound of the band watching those covers for the first time far away from the tour on my trusted laptop. The excitement made the Rolling Stone, Spin, Stereogum, the many Facebook groups, Twitter, Instagram and of course YouTube. Several versions were quickly available and the comments were full of praise and excitement (bar one from ex-Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, which got its own share of coverage).

With those two covers the two is truly underway. Eyes on our Ryan as he consistently delivers a well paced rock show, charms the audiences and takes time to be chatty, funny and improvise at least one full song at every gig. The one from last night, Cotton Candy, being the best of the bunch so far. This one stands out because the band beefs it up so well from the beginning and add strong backing vocals in no time. I’m sure the twin-Les Paul-attack doesn’t hurt. It’s a highlight of the many great improvised songs that just seem to get better and better as they feature more prominently at seemingly every show. There are more than 100 improvised songs in the archives. Someone should sift through them and put together a compilation or two.

The first improvised song this tour to make the headlines was “Ballad of a Detroit Spider”. Ryan, ever the animal lover and defender, vowing not to have a spider on Mike’s mike stand die on his watch. I was playing it the other morning and my girlfriend commented from the bathroom, “That sounds like Prince”. It’s way more sloppy than the Purple One ever got, but it’s got that Purple Rain spoken narrative I suppose.

One new song, Outward Bound, was premiered on the first night of the tour. It made a second appearance in Detroit and always it’s interesting to see it evolve as the band gets a handle on it. It’s in the vein of the self-titled album and is most likely from the upcoming album. We haven’t got a title or a release date, but with a Steve Colbert show coming up on July 25th perhaps we’ll learn more soon. I wonder what they’ll play on that show.

No matter what they decide to play on the show the tour has displayed a band coming into its own behind Ryan. The sound is more rocking than ever, and they seem intent on delivering a no-nonsense set devoid of acoustic guitars, even playing old favourites like Oh My Sweet Carolina on solely electric instruments. It still sounds great. The Black Flag t-shirt Ryan was sporting at one show definitely makes sense with the sped-up versions of some songs.

Just a week into the tour and apart from the festival sets being short and basically a “greatest hits” set of the Ryan Adams catalog, we’ve got our fair share of surprises though we’ll undoubtedly be seeing many more.

Taper Dewey Cole caught the whole of the Promowest Fest show on July 15th. Listening to it on the morning of the 16th I’m reminded of the days of old when following a tour from afar was mainly an audio experience. These days the picture is made up of shaky handheld bits and pieces. It’s still fun to piece the shows together but having an audio recording this quick is just so much better. Thanks Dewey!

Do yourself a favour and listen to Cotton Candy from the show below!


Just another hot day
Gotta hang out on the bus
Waiting to rock some fucking sad songs
And cool on ‘bus

Nothing else to do
But eat my Coco Puffs
You know I’m getting bored
With all that stuff

Rhymes like a psychedelic in the simple bottle of brandy
Made out of Cotton Fucking Candy (Candy)

Look over there
At those coloured Twizzle Sticks
Coming out of the ground
For no reason

All you people just came out of your apartments
Because you couldn’t watch the Food Network
Now you’re listening to me sing some songs
About being a fucking jerk

Life’s an invisible psychedelic bottle of brandy
Fuck that, give me Cotton Candy (Candy)
Give me Cotton Candy
What are you looking at security guard? (Candy)
What are you gonna do about it?
Give me Cotton Candy (Yeah)
Gimme Cotton Candy