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Ryan Adams Rocks, Regales, Reveals at Chicago Theater XRT Show

His music can hit like a thunderstorm or soothe like a summer sprinkle. Either way, it sinks in and feels real. Winning fans since his days with Whiskeytown, Adams has continued to evolve as a collaborator, producer and solo artist, releasing a self-titled album last month. Last Thursday, backed by a galaxy of lights and a supportive band, the denim clad, shaggy haired Adams opened a sold-out show with the leadoff single, “Gimme Something Good.” Check out another new one,”Stay With Me.”

While much of Adam’s work is country-tinged, a super-sized Princeton Reverb amp (bookended with video game consoles) helped Adams create the atmospheric, psychedelic rock of “In the Shadows.” He chose acoustic guitar for one of his best-known songs, delivering a solo, harmonica-fueled shuffle through “New York, New York.”

Adams lived up to his reputation of going off-track with on-stage banter. He hit upon several random topics, even giving a shout out to Chicago’s meatloaf and deep-dish pizza, putting some personality and humor on display.

But on this night he focused most of that intensity into his impressive collection of songs. Layers of well-crafted melodies, soul-mining lyrics, eloquent guitar work, Adam’s pure-sure vocals, and occasional harmonies all open like buds into flowers. During songs like “Dirty Rain,” “My Wrecking Ball,”and “Lucky Now,” many in the audience could be heard gasping at the beauty of it all.

After the concert, Adams tweeted, “Chicago!!!!!, you cats rule!!! XO” And it’s likely that everybody at the show would say the same of him.

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