Music: Ryan Adams, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Rob Adams

Four stars

Ryan Adams may be medically averse to camera and mobile phone flashes, as the pre-set announcement said, but he doesn’t seem to be allergic to smoke machines. The singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, rocker and roots explorer from Jacksonville emerged through a dark cloud and finished the set proper so totally engulfed that it was pretty impressive that he and his band could negotiate the cues for the staccato finale.

In between times, in a show that had moments of pure rock ‘n’ roll theatre, Adams showed that, if the equipment fails, he can still produce the high end goods with just his expressive voice, an acoustic guitar and a harmonica rack. Indeed, his spontaneous troubadour set, while his techs fixed the problem, was a reminder of Adams’ ability to conjure up three-dimensional imagery, not least pertaining to his home town through The End and Jacksonville Skyline’s vivid depictions.

Normal service restored Adams and his road-hardened band rocked and rolled through songs variously concise, anthemic and jam band expansive. It’s music of the current times, with a clearly broad age group appeal, that draws energy and in parts form from rockabilly, Bo Diddley, the Stones and the church, with deep chords and occasional solos from the organ adding richness and atmosphere to the powerful guitar band strumming and riffing.

Songs from Adams’ latest album, Prisoner conveyed both theatre and classic heartbreak, with Adams singing Broken Already guitar-less and almost offering himself in backlit sacrifice, the title track moving from acoustic declamation to full band rage, and Doomsday garnering audience participation that seemed to say we feel your pain but it’s a great tune, too.