Once he got there, Ryan Adams had a heck of a good time on the Landmark Theatre stage in Syracuse on Friday night.
The singer-songwriter-guitarist and his four band mates in The Cardinals strode out together fashionably late, a half-hour past the announced starting time of 8:30. The crowd of 1,400 or so was obviously a tad antsy, given Adams' reputation for scrapping shows or cutting things short if something wasn't to his liking. The audience clapped a bit and whistled some in the moments before the band's arrival.
The Cardinals really rocked the joint. Guitarist and singer Neal Casal was figuratively joined to Adams at the hip, so in tune were they to each other's string and voice work. Pedal steel guitar player Jon Graboff, bassist Chris Feinstein and drummer Brad Pemberton were gloriously tight, too, as they constructed passionate peaks and valleys with Adams' poetic writing and some very well chosen covers.
The first set went fast.
Adams kept things moving from the start, pleading "If I fall, will you catch me?" from the song "Cobwebs" on The Cardinals' upcoming CD "Cardinology."
For the second song, Adams appropriately enough chose "Two," and his voice sounded fine with his lyrics, "It takes two when it used to take one."
Then Adams poked a little fun at his own expense, waving to the crowd and exclaiming "Thank you very much. Good night."
When Adams turned his voice to the tried-and-true love song "When the Stars Go Blue" not quite as twangy as Tim McGraw's version but good-and-alt-country nevertheless it was a truly lovely moment inside the pretty theater.
Adams did complain once about an equipment malfunction, pointing out when a guitar fuzz box wasn't working. But he kept it good-natured, explaining that its function was only to make him "sound weird."
In the second set, the Cardinals slowed things down some but remained every bit as passionate.