Ryan Adams' Stripped Down iHeartRadio Performance: Live Recap

Ryan Adams performs at iHeartRadio LIVE show at the Beacon Theatre on May 4, 2017 in New York City.
Roger Kisby for iHeartRadio

Ryan Adams performs at iHeartRadio LIVE show at the Beacon Theatre on May 4, 2017 in New York City.

Ryan Adams sat in front of a starry background of lights at the intimate iHeartRadio Theater in New York's Tribeca neighborhood on Thursday night (May 4). The singer-songwriter -- and jokester -- had the crowd captivated from the moment he walked on stage: "Sorry I'm late, I was just watching this on YouTube," he said, since the performance and interwoven Q&A was livestreaming.

Adams then dove into a stripped down version of the otherwise rock-driven "Do You Still Love Me?" the opening track off his latest album Prisoner (the follow-up to his 2015 cover album of Taylor Swift's 1989). The song set the tone for the hour-long performance that followed, which essentially saw Adams deconstruct songs (including a revamped version "Gimme Something Good" off his 2014 self-titled record, among other fan favorites) to present them raw. 

As the acoustic set went on, Adams shed his rocker exterior and allowed the folksy singer-songwriter within to take over -- most apparent on "Doomsday," when he whipped out the harmonica and quipped, "I'm tuning so you know I'm not a hologram." Considering the way his near flawless vocals poured out of him, though, the clarification was justified. 

In between his first few songs, iHeartRadio personality Jonathan Clarke asked questions on everything from the music video for "Do You Still Love Me?" -- "I can't really watch it because it makes me dizzy," Adams confessed -- and what is was like to record at the iconic Electric Lady Studios, where Adams once lived a couple blocks away from. "I always feel super creative in that space," he said. 

Elsewhere in the interview, Adams said how all he ever really wants to do is "read comics and talk to my cats," and before delivering the final song of the night, "My Winding Wheel" off 2000's Heartbreaker, he shared what he called one of the best moments of his life. He told the fans -- who by this point were clinging on to his every word and sarcastic crack -- how Elton John, a friend of his, had invited him to dinner one night and said that Bob Dylan would also be attending. When Adams met Dylan, he recalled how his nails were so long they scratched his hand, "I never put Neosporin on it, I wanted it to leave a scar."

Before Adams took to the stage 60-minutes prior, Clarke had introduced him by boldly calling him "one of America's finest songwriters." After seeing Adams deliver such an impassioned set, relying on nothing more than his lyrics, voice and guitar, he had more than proven that claim to be true.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.