Early on in last night's set, Bryan Adams told the capacity crowd in attendance at Connor Palace, “I’m gonna play as many songs as I can remember.” While he might have stopped short of playing the entire catalog, it was a hefty cross-section that gave generous time to each era. Wednesday night’s gig was an encore appearance for Adams, who first brought this “Bare Bones” acoustic show to Playhouse Square for a show at the Ohio Theatre in 2010. But in that time, he’s really solidified the concept, which as he explained, was to take “30 years of the songs I’ve written and play them in the smallest way possible, which is on acoustic guitar.”
Even with simply an acoustic (and occasionally, additional accompaniment on piano from Gary Breit), Adams was in great vocal shape and turned in a rockin’ set from the moment he took the stage, lit by a single spotlight, as he tore through an energetic version of “Run To You,” from 1984’s Reckless.
The song retained every bit of the power found in the original electrified album take. Sure, the audience was heavily populated with Adams’ female fans — and he certainly knew how to wind that section of the crowd up, putting extra emphasis on lines like “But it’s so damn easy makin’ love to you,” but he put just as much focus on the songs and deservedly so.
There would be equal time given to both the rock side of Adams catalog and the now-classic ballads, like “Heaven,” another cut from Reckless
that also did time as part of the soundtrack to the ‘80s flick A Night In Heaven
, a movie which Adams acknowledges could have been a whole lot better — but as he shared with the crowd, when you’re looking for success, you keep your options open. Adams had already tasted some success, thanks to airplay for “Cuts Like A Knife,” which “got me out of the shitty clubs and into the better shitty clubs,” he told the audience with a grin. He shared his memories of playing a Coffee Break Concert at the Agora in that era during the day prior to taking the stage for another show later that same night as the opener for Journey.
He gave a bit of feature time to a few tracks from his latest album, The Tracks Of My Years
, a collection of songs by the artists, he explained, who influenced him in the ‘70s to take a shot at music. It was the Beatles who were “the band that probably had the biggest influence on me musically,” he said as he introduced his version of “Any Time At All,” later sharing that it had been difficult recording material for the album because so many of the songs are “untouchable.” It might seem unlikely to some that Adams would be able to successfully pull off a cover of “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, but he did it with style on the new album and replicated that successful cover with a stripped down version that found him delivering the track, backed only by Breit’s piano playing.
From the crowd reaction, it was clear that Adams’ own material has also become pretty untouchable. The songs hold up — that was quite apparent as Adams ran through all of the classic cuts, with the audience singing along with every word, at times coming close to drowning out his vocals. By the time he closed out the main set, exchanging high fives with the people in the front row, it was clear that it had been a fun evening for both sides. With Reckless celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, there’s word that Adams will be back on the road in the States next year, perhaps playing the album in full and hopefully, Cleveland will be on that list of dates.