Ryan Adams @ York Grand Opera House

It used to be that Ryan Adams was called a “prolific songwriter”, as if that was some kind of flaw. But as prolific as his releases were his live performances were a bit like shooting ducks at the fairground. It became a running joke amongst gig-going Ryan Adams nerds: “which Ryan will turn up tonight?” I’ve seen him play some great shows, I saw him fall off the stage in Liverpool and drunkenly slur his way through a set in Gateshead. His ‘jams’ with the Cardinals were at times mind-numbing.

Now it would appear that Ryan is back on top form following his recent hiatus. He is in love with his music again and this year I’ve seen three wonderful performances.

Tonight’s highlight at the York Grand Opera House looked like it was going to be an early stretch of songs from Dirty Rain to My Winding Wheel to Sweet Lil Gal 23rd/1st and finally Firecracker.

The remainder of the setlist borrowed from just about all of Ryan’s sprawling back catalogue and was, naturally, loaded with tracks from his new record Ashes & Fire, all of which sound like they can be set staples for years to come.

Then the encore came. After a couple of rarely-played songs from Cold Roses and Jacksonville City nights came what was almost a mini-Whiskeytown set: Avenues, 16 Days and the incredible Jacksonville Skyline, topped off with Adams favourite Come Pick Me Up. I find it difficult to imagine a better encore from any other artist. Seriously.

A fine set in a creaky venue. The third in a row. It looks like Ryan Adams has found some consistency.

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