Concert Review: Ryan Adams "Exile on Bourbon Street" at Saenger Theater in New Orleans

Saturday night (May 5) at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans, the rock and roll gods tested Ryan Adams’ commitment as he explored The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street album, considered by many to be The Stones’ masterpiece. Adams and his all-star band called their endeavor “Exile on Bourbon Street.”
They won the hearts of audience members with the first few notes of “Rocks Off.” They got the crowd swaying when the horn section kicked in on a raging rendition of “Rip This Joint.” But it wasn’t until they started shimmying through “Shake Your Hips” that just about everyone in the audience started dancing.
That seemed appropriate. The song tested The Stones’ rock and roll mettle, too. Originally recorded by Slim Harpo, “Shake Your Hips” is the swampiest blues to ever come out of Louisiana. The Stones captured the vibe. So did Adams, thanks to Cyril Neville and the other New Orleans musicians in the band. Call it musical voodoo, if you will. Adams and his crew cast a spell on the audience.
Ryan Adams
By the time they hit the fifth song on the album, “Tumbling Dice,” everyone was singing and no one was sitting. Adams briefly slowed the pace with twangy versions of “Sweet Virginia” and “Torn and Frayed,” which proved to be spectacular showcases for his voice, which soared.
Then they got back to wooing the rock gods.
Exile on Main Street is a ragged, raw album. That’s its charm. There was nothing ragged about "Exile on Bourbon Street." Don Was, the musical director for the project, recruited some of NOLA’s finest musicians for the project, including Mark Mullins of Bonerama, Terence Higgins of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, John Medeski and, of course, Cyril Neville. Every note sounded polished, right down to their explosive cores.
Adams and the band used the music of Exile on Main Street as a musical road map, but they took a lot of detours. They turned many of the tunes into extended jam sessions, and that was just fine with the audience.
When Neville took over lead vocals on “Stop Breaking Down,” he almost burned the beautiful old theater down. And “Soul Survivor” sounded like the Stones filtered through the Neville Brothers as the band closed the evening.
The rock and roll gods met Marie Laveau Saturday night. And they lifted the spirits of everyone at the show.
Ryan Adams - Exile on Bourbon Street - “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking"

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