OH, RYAN: It’s been a solid six years since Ryan Adams last graced the Arlington stage, and for those who were in attendance in 2008, it’s been a long, at times wistful wait that’s now finally over. This Wednesday, October 1, Adams kicks off his U.S. tour back in Santa Barbara, right where we last saw him. The stop comes on the heels of his new, self-titled, and unarguably strong 14th solo album, which finds the singer trading in his sometimes-back-up band The Cardinals for an all-star roster of studio musicians. On board for the sessions were longtime collaborators Benmont Tench, Jeremy Stacey, Ethan Johns, and Don Was, with Adams handling production duty for the first time ever.
What resulted is a record far removed from Adams’s last, primarily acoustic affair, Ashes & Fire. Here, he does an impressive job trance channeling Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty in almost equal measure, conjuring the kind of working-class American rock that practically demands to be cranked from a set of crappy car speakers. Having spent the majority of the last few years playing producer for the likes of Jenny Lewis and Fall Out Boy, Adams seems to have honed his ear for guitar tones in particular. On Ryan Adams, that comes across in a warm soup of electrics that pulls from ’60s and ’70s rock and punk classics. (Adams cites both Hüsker Dü and The Replacements as influences.)
What all this means for the live show is anyone’s guess, but it’s easy to imagine the new material blending nicely with Adams’s older, Heartbreaker-era cuts. Then again, if we’ve learned anything from Adams’s Zen-like productivity, it’s always best to expect the unexpected. In other words, snag tickets and show up early, because it just might be half a decade until it happens again.
For info, call (805) 963-4408 or visit thearlingtontheatre.com.
THICK AS THIEVES: Also this week, the last leg of Santa Barbara Bowl season hits the ground running with Stephen Marley and Thievery Corporation. The KCRW-sponsored event almost perfectly mirrors the kind of World Café–style programming the station has been bringing to the Hollywood Bowl all summer: good, eclectic music that can only benefit from a picturesque outdoor-amphitheater setting.
On the sonic front, the bill couldn’t be better equipped for Santa Barbara concertgoers. Marley’s mellow Rasta musings (and his father’s tight ties to the Bowl) are sure to make for prime reggae Sunday listening. And Thievery’s ambient, psychedelic electronica is prime hippie fodder, capable of jump-starting Burning Man–esque dance parties with just a subtle drop of a beat. That’s not to say TC’s show is a subtle one, though. In fact, it’s the kind of highly detailed, lighting-heavy, visualization-rich concert experience that must be seen to be believed. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 28. Call (805) 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com for tickets and info.