Skip to main content

The City Journals

‘Cutting Through’ with Seal Opening Act Rennie Adams at Red Butte

Jul 20, 2019 05:21PM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Kevin Murphy (left), president of Salt Lake City-based Onyx Graphics and a member of the Red Butte Gardens Board of Directors, enjoys the opening of the Seal concert with Rennie Adams. Australian singer-songwriter Adams is Seal’s opening act and Australian “The Voice” artist. (Jennifer J. Johnson/City Journals)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]

You never know who you will see sitting outdoors, enjoying the music, the camaraderie, the greenery that is Red Butte.

Just as three-decade music sensation Seal was getting ready to kick off his “Standards” tour at Red Butte? City Journals was on hand to visit with Seal’s opening act on the tour.

America is ‘great,’ but Rennie Adams finds Utah and Red Butte ‘even better’

For part of this summer, Australian Rennie Adams is touring with Seal having done so previously. After performing a seven-song set comprised of his own music and covers, Adams found his way to the Red Butte Donors Section of the venue, where the City Journals met up with him.

The 32-year old Adams arrived in Salt Lake City, which he says he loves—both the beauty and the people—the day of the concert. He has previously toured in the Midwest with Seal, where he felt “a great vibe” and met some of “the friendliest people in the world.”

“America is great,” he says, smiling a star’s smile, “but being here? Is even better,” he adds, crediting Red Butte.

He is appreciative, noting Red Butte fans’ digging his music was really inspiring to him. 

An American car for seeing the American West

As opposed to the first-class air afforded the Seal entourage, Adams was traveling in a more economical manner, but also, a decidedly more Americana way—via a black Mustang Convertible.

The Mustang is an iconic workhorse car—the model that never took a year off, one of the few American car models to boast such prolific production. Perhaps Adams, a musician who got his semi-big-break in a career still fomenting, might hope for the same sort of output.

Adams flew into Reno from Australia, picked up the car, and drove the 525-mile journey to Red Butte. After spending the night in Salt Lake City, he was back behind the wheel, heading for Las Vegas, and then—a glorious day in-between—only to then journey to Littleton, Colorado.

‘The Voice’ connects Adams to world-musician Seal 

The Australian version of the reality TV talent-search show “The Voice” brought then-struggling singer-songwriter Adams recognition and earned him the opportunity to mentor under Seal’s tutelage.

Adams, who admits he did not know about the “The Voice” until a mate familiar with his musical aspirations inquired over a pint—“Why don’t you give it a go?”

Adams, with the help of Seal, ended up not winning but landing in the “top eight” of the competition. 

From there, the hard-working musician has toured with Seal around the world and has also worked with Grammy award-winning producer and engineer Jim Lowe. 

Of Seal, he is absolutely effusive: “Seal has done much more than contractually obligated to,” he says, deeming Seal’s help “excellent” and that he has been “looked after in so many ways.”

Los Angeles is looked as way to ‘cut through’

Next up for Adams is a move around the world to Los Angeles, where he hopes to really dig into writing, recording, and performing on another level. “The Australian music scene,” he says, “is tough to cut through” to a global fan base because of its comparatively diminutive market size to the global marketing powerhouse that is the United States. 

Adams is right: Coming to L.A. is a must for this man wanting to really break through, the way Aussie bands like The Jezebels, Keith Urban, Natalie Imbruglia, and long ago Men at Work, the Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, and much longer-ago (and recent G’Day USAlifetime achievement winner) Helen Reddy have done. And then there is the sensation known as AC/DC, which few think of as being Australian.

None of those bands, though, finds an echo in Adams’s sound.

The assessment provided of his musicality is a surprising fit: He agrees that a blend of James Taylor and Tal Bachman is a good descriptor of himself, Rennie Adams, the Australian guitar-playing, singer-songwriter.

His other music influences span the Northern Hemisphere, and include 1970s band America, 1960s-1970s Canadian rock icon Neil Young, and, not surprisingly, Slowhand-God-The Greatest United Kingdom singer-songwriter-guitarist Eric Clapton.

At the close of his interview he is, again, told how his cover of Clapton’s “Change the World,” performed at Red Butte was bold and an example of putting himself “out there.”

His theme re-emerges: “I put my own spin on it. Got to cut through.”