Saturday, September 26, 2009
Better Than: A sonically faithful retro-tour performance.
Bryan Adams was definitely a rock star when I was in high school, so I didn't know what to expect from this acoustic performance. It could have been a ploy to make some cash on a wave of nostalgia or an attempt to seem relevant during a period of low creativity. But that's not what Adams delivered at this show.
With a genuine smile at the warm reception the crowd gave him, Adams waved to the audience and thanked us for coming before going into a stripped down and oddly haunting version of "Run To You." Because of the different tone of the song and its alternate textures, I actually liked it better than the original. Immediately, it was obvious Adams was serious about this music he's been playing for going on three decades. He followed up his old hit with one of his worthy, more recent songs, "Tonight We Have the Stars." It seemed as though the guy was having fun and he was playing with a palpable intensity and passion. Nothing was rote, he didn't play like he was phoning it in with the older songs and each song came off like Adams truly cared about and loved each of them. That and it was clear he wanted to give his audience a memorable performance.
After the first couple of songs, Adams brought pianist Gary Briet to the stage and Briet accented the songs in subtle ways that gave the music a broader sonic dimension. Before performing "Thought I'd Died and Gone to Heaven," Adams told us that he had written an entire album and then scrapped it and wrote a lot more songs that became the album Waking Up the Neighbors. Then he told us he toured for four years on that album after which he went to Jamaica with the intention of being there for two weeks to write songs with a friend and a year later he emerged with material that would become the album 18 Till I Die. In fact, throughout, Adams joked with the audience with charmingly self-deprecating humor and wry observations.
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Longtime collaborator Gretchen Peters, from Denver, joined Bryan on stage for "Blessing in Disguise" and "When You Love Someone." Together, the two created truly lovely vocal harmonies and guitar interplay. One of the most inspired moments came, oddly enough, halfway through "Please Forgive Me." Adams joked about how it would make a great country song and then proceeded to sing and play in that style for most of the rest of the song.
With humorous and wittily told anecdotes about songs and a charismatic and utterly engaging performances, Bryan Adams delivered a solid performance of some of his best material and did better than the original for more than a few.
Personal Bias: Both musically and physically, Bryan Adams has aged better than almost all of his contemporaries.
Random Detail: It was a particularly warm night in early fall that made for a nice walk before and after the show.
By the Way: Bryan Adams' new album, 11, is actually pretty good if you're a fan.
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Paramount Theatre - 09.26.09
01. Run To You
02. Tonight We Have the Stars
03. Back To You
04. Here I Am
05. Thought I'd Died and Gone to Heaven
06. Let's Make a Night to Remember
07. Can't Stop This Thing We Started
08. I Thought I'd Seen Everything
09. Blessing in Disguise [with Gretchen Peters]
10. When You Love Someone [with Gretchen Peters]
11. In the Heat of the Night
12. Not Romeo Not Juliet
13. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
14. Cuts Like a Knife
15. This Time
16. Please Forgive Me
17. Summer of '69
18. Walk On By
20. If It's Lovin' That You Want
21. Baby When You're Gone
22. The Only Thing That Looks Good On You is Me
24. Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman
25. Never Let Go
26. Straight From the Heart
27. All For One and All For Love