Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

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:: Ryan Adams & The Cardinals ::
:: Broomfield Event Center :: December 8 ::
:: supporting Oasis ::

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                                                 Photo by Chris Dodge

There’s a reason that Ryan Adams refers to his band as the “MFC” (Mother Fuckin’ Cardinals), because the band is, in fact, a bunch of mother fuckers, who have taken their rock/jam/alt-country sound and shaped it into one of the most interesting and impassioned acts on the road today.

With heavy snow falling outside, a down-right dismal crowd inside, and an opening spot for Oasis, The Cardinals could have easily phoned in their set Monday night at the Broomfield Event Center, but the rose-logoed rockers approached the set with great fervor, and ended up putting in one of the best sets of music that I’ve ever seen at the Denver area’s oddest music venue.

I missed the first song, due to the ridiculous parking set-up (more on that later), but as I went through security (more on that later too) and found my seat (ditto) “Crossed Out Name,” off the band’s latest album Cardinology, echoed through the seemingly empty ice rink.

Many folks, even good fans of Adams, continually expect him to play soft acoustic rock, a la his breakout release Heartbreaker. But with the Cardinals behind him, Adams rarely delivers that these days. His track “Everybody Knows,” off last year’s Easy Tiger, is an acoustic-based track, but little of that came through, as the band tore through it with a rocking edge not heard on the album.

The set continued like that taking songs that may have come across as soft ballady numbers on the albums, but from the stage were full on rock songs. Even the track “Off Broadway” which was never an album favorite, for me, was presented in a rock version that made me enjoy the song for the first time.

But the surprise of the set was Adam’s trademark song, “Come Pick Me Up.” The song, which originally appeared on Heartbreaker, has been a thorn in Adam’s side for some time. Though the song brought him some notoriety and popularity, he had vowed several times that he wouldn’t play it live again, and has, in fact, lashed out at fans from the stage who have requested it. But apparently, he’s comfortable enough with The Cardinals re-arrangement of the song that he belted it out, to the audience’s delight — and on par for the night, it wasn’t done as an acoustic track.

The set was short, only one hour, but that was expected as an opener. What wasn’t expected was how much Adams and The Cardinals made of that hour. Truly great!

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view of Oasis) holiday parties were also on the schedule for the night and I bolted before Oasis took the stage.

I said I’d revisit parking, security and seating later and here it is:
Simply put, I hope I never have to see a show at this venue again. $10 parking? $15 for close-in? Come on! That’s absolute rape. Sure, lots of music venues back east and around the country do it, but we’re not them and we shouldn’t be. It seems awfully random when they’ll decide to make you pay for parking. I’ve been to several shows there before where there were no fees, so I showed up ill prepared with no cash in my wallet and was forced to scour the local neighborhood for one of a very few public and free spots.

That was frustrating in and of itself, but going through security had all the compassion of a strip search at Guantanamo Bay. I mean, a full pat down for The Cardinals and Oasis? What is this, an Insane Clown Posse show? You really need to pat down yuppies and stoners? Oh…and if you’re going to do it, Broomfield, at least be good at it. I switched my pipe from my front to my back pocket almost directly in front of the guy and he still didn’t find it. What in the hell is the purpose of groping my legs if you’re not going to find shit in my pockets?

Finally, the inept security team was embarrassing in their “control” of the under-whelming crowd. Is it really, really necessary to make everyone sit in their assigned seat during the opener when half the venue is empty? Since the lights were down when I came in, and I’m not familiar with the venue well enough to find my seat in the dark, I grabbed a seat in my section. Despite the fact that there were 40 or more empty seats around me, the Yellow Shirt descended upon me, directed me out of the seat I was occupying, but didn’t have the decency to take the time to show me to my REAL seat…I guess she was too busy keeping the stampeding crowd at bay.

Setlist:
Cobwebs
Crossed Out Name
Everybody Knows
When The Stars Go Blue
Fix It
Let It Ride
Off Broadway
Go Easy
Sink Ships
Come Pick Me Up
I Taught Myself How To Grow Old
Two
Natural Ghost
Magick

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4 Comments

  1. I think the venue had its ups & downs but the sound seemed pretty good and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. I paid for that nonsense ‘VIP parking’ when I got my tix and was able to park about a foot from the entrance, which was worth it when we got out. Security, though, was indeed a joke. I don’t mean to sound unkind to fellow concert-goers, but I paid day-of-on-sale prices for my tickets and ended up with a bunch of kids (who obviously blew in on the $19 sale) in front of me who spent the whole of Oasis’ set sparking up and twitching like brain-damaged zombies while the yellow shirts mostly harassed valid ticket-holders and tried to look fierce. Maybe Noel’s a little touchy after that Toronto incident.

    You’re right about Adams’ set; he seems to benefit greatly from The Cardinals’ presence and owned the arena with “Magick,” a track that sounds nothing like its Cardinology version. He has a strange stage presence (as noted by the L.A. reviews and Ryan’s subsequent responses) but I was surprised that he can deliver the same rich vocal performances that characterize his albums.

    For their part, Oasis was pulling their “I have nothing but disdain for you, my pathetic audience” act but they produced a pretty serious wall of sound. Noel Gallagher demonstrated with stellar versions of The Masterplan and Don’t Look Back in Anger that he’s really the integral element of the band, and not his snotty brother. Nice that they didn’t load their set with too much filler from Dig Out Your Soul, turned in a sincere performance of Wonderwall, and closed with a killer encore that included a lengthy Champagne Supernova and a seriously psychedelic interpretation of “I Am The Walrus.” Overall, both performances were frankly better than I expected.

  2. I was lucky enough to be in town on the night of the show (no, I didn’t travel 700 miles just for the Cardinals). As for the seating: I paid for the cheapest seat (which was $38, night of the show), then walked over to a seat two sections from the stage. I stood there the whole Cardinals set and was never bothered by “security.” It was my first time seeing the band live, and even with the short set I thought they sounded great.

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