Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis - Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Written by David James Young

Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis - Enmore Theatre, Sydney

A Jenny Lewis show is a delight to behold. Whether you were witness to the full-scale experience at the Metro on Wednesday night or simply its condensed version this evening, this is something that reveals itself to be undeniable and subsequently indelible.

It’s all bright rainbows, warm harmonies and a career-spanning look at the sounds and styles Lewis has traversed; from the reverb-laden cloud-talk of Just One of the Guys to the indie-playlist essential Portions for Foxes. Lewis’ band is one that has gelled together beautifully, recreating every track with vivid, pinpoint detail.

Lewis herself, meanwhile, has clearly fallen back in love with performing – especially when it pertains to her not playing guitar and simply letting her inner crooner out to prowl; as was the case with The Moneymaker and She’s Not Me. She leaves the audience in stunned silence with a stripped-back rendition of Acid Tongue. As Lewis performs the song acoustically, her bandmates stand in a semi-circle, arm in arm, around a condenser microphone; adding in the kind of five-part harmonies it would take some vocal groups years to achieve. Here’s to you, Ms. Lewis – an indie queen not ready to step down from the throne.

To lead in a discussion on the night that was, one unfortunately has to broach upon the subject of members of the audience being inexplicably rude to the headlining performer when speaking of his Ménière’s disease; a hypersensitivity pertaining to flashing lights and lasers sending him into dizzy spells when flashed in his face.

When speaking on the matter after an audience member used flash photography, Ryan Adams was laughed at loudly by some audience members – who, presumably, were also the same bright sparks that felt compelled to scream incoherently at Adams at random intervals. Even still, Adams refused to let the actions of say, 25, reflect on a crowd 2500 strong. If this show was about anything, it was about the greater good prevailing.

At this stage of Adams’ career, he is clearly past the point of fretting over public perception and his own reputation. Hell, it’s clear within his own stage set-up – a Dr. Pepper vending machine, two arcade games, a stuffed-toy tiger and novelty-size amps are just some of the things littered about the area.

This carefree nature has lead its way into the classic-rock stylings of his most recent self-titled album; as well as the free-wheeling, meandering nature of the setlist itself. An extended jam on Nothing Girl leads to a surprise run-through of the closest thing Adams has ever had to a ‘hit’ in the form of New York, New York. At another interval, the band wigs out on Peaceful Valley in a style that Neil Young and Crazy Horse would approve of before launching into a rendition of Kim that would make Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers proud.

It’s a super-fan’s dream setlist, and it’s performed with unadulterated joy. The winding wheel rolls on, and Adams prevails in the face of superfluous adversity.

Ryan Adams will play at Splendour In The Grass tonight, Friday 24th July.

Image: Ryan Adams Performs At The Enmore Theatre, Sydney 23.07.15 / Photo: Annette Geneva

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