Steven James Adams is not a cocky man. He doesn’t need constant attention and does not demand the spotlight. In his own words, he hates gigs. In fact, he hates people. The only reason he tours is to promote his new album, ‘Old Magick‘. And despite that, to the concert on 16th March he only brought 11 copies of his record. He just didn’t think it’ll sell and was caught off guard when a single person bought five copies. All of this information was a part of a very long monologue Adams carried out on stage, during his gig at St. Pancras Old Church. In between there were some songs, sure. But watching Steven James Adams live is as much watching him talk as it is listening to his music. And that’s okay; no one was complaining that night.
Adams is not new to the music world in any case. His time in the biz was spent with two bands (Broken Family Band and Singing Adams) and in 2014 he debuted his first solo album, House Music. His sophomore record was released earlier this month. All of that experience was apparent from the minute Adams took to the stage on last Wednesday. While the entire room fell silent with anticipation, Adams carried on tuning his guitar, like nothing special had happened, alerting that this may take eight more minutes. Later he proceeded with describing how hungover he was. So hungover, that he walked out of the church in a straight line, and managed to get lost on the way back.
When Adams finally started playing, it was almost anticlimactic. The folksy guitar hooks, along with his soothing voice seemed very regular. Mix that with the church’s acoustics, and the gig even felt a little sedative. It was like the room was somehow filled with Adams‘ children and he was slowly trying to lull us to sleep. Luckily, Adams‘ comedic skills made sure that no one was bored for too long. Like when he played ‘Tears of Happiness‘ and asked the crowd to pretend there was a guitar solo, by applauding as loud as possible (while he struck a guitar-solo pose). Or when he explained how ‘Kings Of The Back Of The Bus’ was written about a different Dan than the Dan everyone thought.
But as funny and lovable as Adams‘ rants are, the concert really kicked in when he let the music take centre-stage. The exact moment happened during the finishing run of ‘Black Cloud‘, where Adams stepped away from the microphone and sang at the top of his lungs. Chills;. that’s the only way to describe it. Later, during a sweet Jolie Holland cover, he unplugged the guitar and walked into the audience. And right after, while singing Modern Options he asked for some crowd participation, making the song sound like a beautiful silent prayer (appropriate with the church settings). Adams continued working the room, walking up and down and even playing from the balcony, with a giant organ as his backdrop.
Basically, a show that started off as a snooze, turned into a stand-up act and later spiraled into an incredible acoustic showcase. By the end of the gig, it was hard to remember why the beginning was so rocky. Maybe it was Adams’ hangover. Or maybe, and this is just a suggestion, next time Adams can cut the mic, the amp and 90% of the talking from his show. And just let the music do the talking.
This Steven James Adams article was written by Tal Imagor, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.
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