LIVE: Bryan Adams @ The Egg, 12/9/13
Review by Greg Haymes
Yeah, it’s grounds for excommunication from the Royal Fraternity of Hip Rock Critics, but I gotta admit that I like Bryan Adams. He’s a damned good pop songsmith. Sure, sometimes he goes a bit over the top. (Before we go any further here, let’s just single out “The Three Muskateers” soundtrack hit, “All for Love” that he recorded with Sting and Rod Stewart, call it GDM [Girls Dormitory Music] and leave it at that, OK?) On the other hand, quite often it seems that Adams crafts that perfect kind of pop song – a song that you can sing along with even the first time that you hear it. And come on, that’s some serious musical alchemy.
Bryan Adams is the Canadian Jon Bon Jovi – another solid, hard-working journeyman songwriter who was fortunate enough to grab the golden ring that catapulted him to stardom. The songs are sturdy. Good hooks. OK, the lyrics are kind of cliched, but when you’re at the Big Rock Show, are you dissecting the lyrical content of “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” or “Somebody”? No, you’re not. You’re knockin’ back a brewski, singin’ at the top of your lungs and pumpin’ your fist in the air.
Well, Bryan Adams at The Egg was definitely not that kind of show. There was no beer inside the theater. There was no fist pumpin’ at all. And, heck, there wasn’t even a band. That’s right, it was just Bryan Adams, his acoustic guitar, Gary Breit at the grand piano, an occasional blast of harmonica and plenty of almost involuntary clapping along and singing along from the sold-out crowd that packed into The Egg’s Hart Theatre on Monday night (December 9).
Adams hasn’t had a Top 40 hit in America since last century (1996, to be exact). No matter. He’s got 14 Top 40 hits in his songbag and at least as many albums to draw from. If you’re keeping score, he has, however, also recorded duets with Barbra Streisand and the Spice Girls’ Melanie C (that’s Sporty Spice, in case you’ve forgotten).
His husky sandpaper voice wrapped neatly around the big arena anthems stripped down in intimate, unplugged arrangements, and the songs held their own. He only fell short of the mark when he ventured into the blues – the generic “If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good” in particular – and fortunately that wasn’t often.
Adams made his American concert debut at Albany’s legendary J.B. Scott’s back in 1981, and as his career caught fire, he climbed the Local 518 Venue Ladder of Success from the Palace Theatre to the Knickerbocker Arena (now the Times Union Center) to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
On Monday, he found himself slipping back down the ladder to The Egg. No matter. Even armed with just an acoustic guitar Bryan Adams knows how to rock. It’s in his blood…
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: He’s very comfortable interacting with the audience. Noticing two empty seats in the front, he picked two people from the back row and told them to come down front. Surely, he has done this before, but they are original moves and they work. Typically, when one guy sings 20-plus love songs alone on guitar, the songs run into each other. Adams’ tunes stayed distinct. His writing is strong. Stripped to the bare bones — exposed — the songs kept their excitement, and some took on new tension given the more audible the lyrics. Sure, Adams’s venue sizes continue to shrink as the years go on. But he’s adapted well and appears to be enjoying his newest formula. He put on a good show — his audience certainly liked it. So it’s his to ride for a good while if he wants it.”
BRYAN ADAMS SET LIST
Run to You (solo)
It’s Only Love (solo)
I Thought I’d Seen Everything
Here I Am
When You Love Someone
I Finally Found Someone
Can’t Stop This Thing We Started (solo)
If Ya Wannna Be Bad, Ya Gotta Be Good
(Everything I Do) I Do It for You
Cuts Like a Knife (solo)
Please Forgive Me
Summer of ’69
Walk On By (solo)
All for Love
The Right Place
The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You (solo)
You’ve Been a Friend to Me
Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman
I Still Miss You… A Little Bit
Straight From the Heart (solo)