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Country boy is game for a laugh

At a Ryan Adams concert, everyone can hear you sneeze. Probably because there ain't a drum kit in sight. Yep, it's an acoustic, one-man show, and the denim-clad rocker with the messy hair can hear everything. Conversations down the back, song requests and, of course, people sneezing.

In fact, Ryan worries that his Irish fans aren't getting enough vitamin C. He even makes a joke about it. And he's very good at making jokes.

For what feels like a lifetime, the 37-year-old music maker also lashes out at the Academy of Country Music Awards, poking fun at everyone involved.

Indeed, he's quite the oddball. He also does whatever the hell he wants, regularly switching from tragic pianist singing songs about a cat, to heartbroken troubadour, and laughing at the way his fans time their toilet breaks.

Oh, and he'll sometimes turn his back on the audience (hey, if it works for Dylan ... ).

Maybe he's always like this; a grumpy American songwriter with a quirky sense of humour. Maybe he's practising for a career in stand-up. Or maybe it was a mistake, passing comment on ... anything.


He even asks us to forget about some of the things he has said and to go back to thinking that he's just "a sad bastard" with a guitar.

But he has been caught out. And besides, it works well for him, balancing out the workload with a strange yet pleasant stage demeanour. If only because Ryan Adams is hardly the breath-taking talent that so many have been led to believe.

He's good. And there are times when he's very, very good. But there's nothing extraordinary about the guy. A solid player with a smooth vocal, Adams knows his way around a cracking melody (The Rescue Blues, New York, New York, Come Pick Me Up) and it's a testament to his skills as a songwriter that the two hours he's on stage pass quickly.

The reaction from his fans tonight says that most of them hold Ryan in very high regard. But, like I said, he's just a cool guy with a likeable collection of songs. And some funny one-liners.