Saturday 7th May 2016
O2 Arena London
As well as continuing seemingly without pause to release new material over the last 36 years, Bryan Adams has also built a considerable name for himself as a photographer, campaigner and philanthropist. But the focus was entirely on music for his gig at the 02 Arena, one of the stops on the UK leg of a European tour in support of his newest album, 'Get Up'.
Steeped unashamedly in the realms of Dad Rock, the 56-year-old Adams performed a selection of the biggest hits from his 13-album catalogue with remarkable energy, repeatedly high tailing it from one end of the stage to the other during several guitar solos. There were also a few less-well-known, fan-requested numbers and some material from his 13th and latest album, for form’s sake, all of which were politely received by the crowd. But it was clear, and he didn't do much to hide the fact, that this was a night mostly geared at the revved-up rockers in his catalogue.
Adams’s enormous oeuvre is full of songs you didn’t realise you knew all the words to. He wheeled out his much-covered 1985 power ballad 'Heaven' early in the set, and let the audience sing the entire first verse back to him without joining in. Adams sometimes couldn’t seem to believe the audience knew so many words either: “I love it when you sing, man,” he said, more than once, in a quiet voice. The hits came thick and fast such as the timeless anthemic ‘Run To You’ and even though he must have performed monster singles such as '(Everything I Do) I Do It For You' so many times that you wonder if he also sings it in his sleep, he didn’t betray the slightest hint of anything other than delight at being able to share it with a crowd yet again. He was completely at home on stage.
Jukebox fave 'Summer of ’69' was raunchier live than it is in the recorded version, accompanied by footage on video display screens that included crash zooms of inked lyrics into a naked woman’s crotch. All this is laddishness which is perhaps unbecoming in a performer who is, after all, entering his late fifties. But then, it was at least in keeping with the sentiment behind his storming performance of 1996 release '18 Till I Die'. His signature song, 'Cuts Like A Knife' sounded raw and fresh as an inspired and eager crowd sang along to fill out the familiar "nah-nah-nah" chorus much to Bryan's visual delight.
There is a theme throughout the evening and that theme is craftsmanship. His voice which still sounds like he has gargled battery acid backstage but hitting the high notes with ease, is effortless and faultless throughout, with his guitar playing equally so. And then there is the backing group led by the force of nature that is Keith Scott. The guitarist is as good as they come and Adams lets him go to town with wildly innovative and impromptu shredding solos on a number of occasions, particularly on 'It's Only Love'.
The encore encompassed a rousing cover of Eddie Cochran's 1958 rockabilly classic 'C'Mon Everybody' and Elvis's 'All Shook Up'. It was rounded out by solo acoustic versions of even more selections from his deep bag of hits: 'Straight From The Heart' (complete with his own harmonica accompaniment) and a gorgeous set-closing 'All For Love', during which Adams asked everyone in the arena to hold up their lit phones to fill the sky with thousands of tiny lights, which resembled a starlit night.
It’s an intimate end to a barn-storming fusion of songs spanning over four decades, the new songs sitting very comfortably amongst the classics, I should add. There is nothing bad to say, it’s a great evening of good old-fashioned Rock and Roll delivered with a warmth and enthusiasm that leaves everyone smiling. For those lucky enough to be in attendance, they were, for those one hundred and thirty minutes with Bryan Adams playing his old six-string, 18 ‘til they died. Mr. and Mrs. WTS have seen him quite a few times now.. It won't be the last...
Do What Ya Gotta Do
Can't Stop This Thing We Started
Don't Even Try
Run to You
Go Down Rockin'
Kids Wanna Rock
It's Only Love
You Belong to Me
Summer of '69
When You're Gone (solo acoustic)
(Everything I Do) I Do It for You
On A Day Like Today
If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good
Here I Am
I'll Always Be Right There
Please Forgive Me
Cuts Like a Knife
18 Till I Die
The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You
Brand New Day
C'mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran cover)
All Shook Up (Elvis Presley cover)
She Knows Me (solo acoustic)
Straight From the Heart (solo acoustic)
Into The Fire (solo acoustic)
All for Love (Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting cover) (solo acoustic)
Remember (solo acoustic)
Wrinkly The Silver