Bryan Adams

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author LF date 22/05/14 venue Gamle Scene, Det Kongelige Teater, Copenhagen, DEN

Discovering about a month ago and almost by accident that rockstar Bryan Adams was visiting Denmark this year, I immediately secured the date in my calendar. Although it's been some time since he was in heavy rotation on my stereo, the 13-year-old LF would have never forgiven me if I didn't go to see him given the chance. Despite my early infatuation with him, I never really considered myself a massive fan although after slowly realizing that I know pretty much every song on the set list tonight by heart, I suppose I henceforth have to admit to being somewhat of a sucker for his hoarse, strained voice and cheesy song-writing. The show this evening is part of a rerun of the acoustic Bare Bones tour that Adams did in 2010 followed by the release of a live-album also called "Bare Bones". The tour has several stops in Denmark, the first one being this entirely sold out show at The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen.

All pictures by Christian Søes

Bryan Adams

As I sit in my seat at the venue that is filled to the brim with buzzing fans that wait eagerly for the star of the evening to take the stage, a simplistic setup consisting of a grand piano, a microphone stand and a black and white backdrop featuring a skull with a top hat are the only things to be seen on the stage. Soon the lights dim and a lonely spot settles on the microphone as Adams enters to massive applause with a top hat to match the backdrop and his guitar strapped casually around his shoulder. He plays a harmonica a few times, and come the third song is joined by pianist Gary Breit who accompanies him most of the time, but occasionally leaves the stage to let him fly solo. The idea behind the Bare Bones tour, as Adams comments later in the set, is that it's "all about the music" in its completely stripped down form, and everything from the setup on stage, over the sparse lighting that makes use of simple colours and shadows, to Adams' simple appearance and extremely laid-back demeanor on stage, underlines this.

From the very first words of show opener "Run To You", it's evident that the crowd tonight is a dedicated one. In this somewhat high-class setting for a rock show, people are enthusiastically singing along, clapping and moving to the music as best they can in their seats. Compared to the noisy punk rock shows that have filled my show calendar lately, it's refreshing to experience an artist who makes every single word of every single song ring clear across the room. The sound is rich even when Breit leaves Adams alone on stage with only his guitar and his powerful, unwavering voice to communicate with. He certainly comes across as a big star, but in a sort of underplayed way, for instance when he humbly references his collaborations with Rod Stewart, Sting and Barbara Streisand before the appropriate songs, but he's got both feet firmly on the ground, keeping the show light-hearted and funny all the way through. He is obviously a seasoned artist, and he fires some old stories and jokes in between songs that people who know him will recognize, but it's all delivered with such genuine playfulness that it doesn't really matter. Tonight he looks like he was born on that stage with the guitar in his hand, and like he would not want to be anywhere else in the world than right here, interacting with his fans.

As he works his way through his repertoire, hit after hit, love song after love song, he seems to command the room without even trying too hard. Relying heavily on the audience's knowledge of the studio versions of his songs, he sometimes delays some lines to hear the voices in the room sing them to him before happily singing them himself. Sometimes this is done to comic effect as when half the crowd suddenly sings an intermediary "uuu-uu-uuh" alone, while Adams just smiles cheekily in silence and makes a break in his guitar play to emphasize it even more. During the groovy "If Ya Wanna Be Bad, Ya Gotta Be Good" he asks for "just one wiiiild woman" to get up and dance to it, and it doesn't take long before someone stands up in front in response to his request. Little gimmicks like this set a good mood in the entire room, serving to loosen the audience up fairly quickly and letting Adams slowly build a solid connection, which he maintains with his talk between songs throughout the show.

Normally I get sick of too much cheesiness, but tonight where pretty much every song on the set list is a love song as dreamy and honest as they come, I'm not even annoyed during the really heavy ones like "Heaven" or "Please Forgive Me". Rather I'm just lost in nostalgia, Adams' amazing voice, good humour and generally likeable way of performing no doubt helping this a lot of the way. Of all the more up-tempo songs, "The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You" works the best, simply because of the cool riffs that translate surprisingly well in the acoustic version. The only time I'm left sort of disillusioned is during his probably biggest hit-song, "Summer of '69". Most people in the audience clap and sing during the duration of it before rising to give him a standing applause, some even yelling for him to play it once more. To me however, it is the weakest song tonight, as the delivery of it seems sort of rushed and somehow lacking without a full band. The strongest moment on the other hand, and the only time where I genuinely feel a connection with Adams through his music and not just his talk, is when he plays "Into The Fire" on request near the end of his set.

As he quickly returns for his encore and grooves through the final couple of songs with an energy like he has nothing but blues rock running through his veins, he invites people to come down from the balconies and dance in front if they want, reinforcing the intimate, down-to-earth approach of the entire evening. He might not be able to deliver the sort of urgent, expressive music that I enjoy the most these days, but what he does, he does extremely well. He is not exactly a technical guitar genius, but his power lies in his simple song-writing, impressive voice and compelling character, and I don't think one fan left this show disappointed.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Run To You
  • 2. It's Only Love
  • 3. I Thought I'd Seen Everything
  • 4. Here I Am
  • 5. When You Love Someone
  • 6. This Time
  • 7. I Finally Found Someone
  • 8. Can't Stop This Thing We Started
  • 9. If Ya Wanna Be Bad, Ya Gotta Be Good
  • 10. I Can't Stop Loving You (Ray Charles cover)
  • 11. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
  • 12. Cuts Like A Knife
  • 13. Please Forgive Me
  • 14. Summer of '69
  • 15. Walk On By
  • 16. Heaven
  • 17. All For Love
  • 18. When You're Gone
  • 19. Back To You
  • 20. Into The Fire
  • 21. The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You

- Encore

  • 22. Somebody
  • 23. You've Been A Friend To Me
  • 24. Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?
  • 25. I Still Miss You... A Little Bit
  • 26. Straight From The Heart

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