Oasis and Ryan Adams at the Patriot center
Monday, December 22, 2008
Demon seeds have always made the best rock stars. The Patriot Center's Saturday night double bill of Oasis and Ryan Adams was packed with bad actors and stunning musical moments.
Image was everything when Oasis broke out of Manchester, England, in the early 1990s. Singer Liam Gallagher's drunkenness and brawling with guitarist/brother Noel helped the band whup its less tabloid-friendly rivals, Blur, in the two-band battle for U.K. pop supremacy.
But Oasis hasn't stuck around this long because of its tabloid antics. Now it's about the songs, and Oasis rolled out a bevy of beauties for the packed Fairfax arena. The singalongs on oldies "Lyla" and "Don't Look Back in Anger" gave the venue a soccer-stadium feel. The melodic guitar wash of "Morning Glory" and "Champagne Supernova" still typify the Manchester sound.
Not that the boys are all grown up. Noel lamented that D.C. isn't the "murder capital of the world" as it was during his group's earliest visits to the area. And Liam, dressed like John Lennon in beat-up fatigues and sunglasses, was aloof and obnoxious, occasionally to a delightful degree.
Before the set-ending cover of Lennon's "I Am the Walrus," Liam told the crowd, "You've been great!" But before anybody could be fooled into thinking he's become a good guy, Liam added: "But not as great as us!"
Like many rockers before him, opener Ryan Adams wants to be Neil Young. Unlike the rest, he's got all the tools.
For 50 minutes, Adams stood in front of a cartoonishly oversize Fender amplifier reproduction (the same prop Young used on 1979's "Rust Never Sleeps" tour) and sang songs that were at once sad and beautiful and noisy as all get out -- much sadder, more beautiful and noisier live, in fact, than on record. For "I Taught Myself How to Grow Old," Adams, backed by the Cardinals, wore out his guitar strings and wailed in a Youngish falsetto.
Adams's addictions and oddball behavior get as much attention as his musical brilliance. On this night he was annoying whenever he wasn't singing or strumming, and he babbled nonsense and giggled like a stoned college kid between every song.
"This song is about my favorite dune buggy," he mumbled before his recent gem, "Natural Ghost," which isn't about a dune buggy. But then the music started, and, oh boy, the world was a better place.