Bryan Adams performing his Reckless 30th Anniversary Tour at The Capital FM Arena Nottingham on Thursday 13th November 2014
Images and Review by Kevin Cooper
The beauty of having a large arena venue on your doorstep is that the city can attract some of the biggest names in music, and there can really be none bigger than Canadian singer songwriter, Bryan Adams.
In Nottingham for the opening night of his 23 date European Tour to mark the 30th birthday of his iconic album, Reckless; it was a packed arena that waited patiently for him. The set, simple but very effective, comprised of a huge video screen, which for the waiting audience showed a picture of Adams, which at times moved his eyes and his mouth. The entertainment had started right from the off.
As the lights went down, the roar that greeted the band, who ran on to the stage, would have done our local football team proud. Without any fancy greetings, Adams plugged in his big gold Gretsch and boom, the concert was off. Just like his previous visit, the muscular Adams and his four piece band were dressed from head to toe in black, and that included guitarist Keith Scott, who played on the original release.
As the band launched into the opener, Reckless, the whole body of the arena rose as the last notes died away, and not a single person sat down again for the next two hours. One Night Love Affair followed, as did Run To You. Whilst Adams and Scott traded places in the solos and the singer conducted the band with his guitar neck, some genuine improvisation crept into some of the numbers, and the show began to come alive.
That a highly professional band can throw in another chord sequence here or there, or trade licks is not a surprise; that they are allowed to do so in the sterile, super controlled atmosphere of a big ticket tour, most certainly is.
The solo in She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancing produced a great moment when the band fed off each other, and the front man was running all over the stage. There was also a muted controlled final solo which added pathos to the otherwise mawkish Heaven. But throughout, they sounded like an actual band, not a set of super drilled session hands. In truth, it was like watching the most expensive bar band in the world having a breezily good time, and simply thrilling the crowd.
It is always surprising to discover just how many of Adam’s songs are instantly recognisable, especially as the first hour was made up of the tracks from the album, which must have had six or seven hits on it; with each one being greeted like a long lost relative as soon as the third or fourth chord was played.
Hits such as Somebody, It’s Only Love and Run To You were rapturously received and this arena was simply rocking. Ending this section of the show with the modern classic, Summer Of ’69 and Let Me Down Easy, a track recorded during the Reckless sessions, the 55 year old rocker then moved effortlessly into his greatest hits set.
With plenty to dance to, it was fair to say that Cloud # 9 and 18 Til I Die are as good a pair of party rockers as you will ever hear played live. On the flip side we also had the popular When You’re Gone and one of the bestselling singles ever in the UK; (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, during which the entire audience seemed to hold their mobile phones aloft in unison.
Asking for a “wild woman” who could dance, the females in the crowd went crazy for attention. A young lady was chosen and with the spotlight on her, she earned every second of her three minutes of fame as she writhed away to If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good.
This part of the show also featured a number of covers of old hits as well as some new songs. There was The Beatles Any Time At All which was brilliant, but the encore numbers had this crowd shouting for more. There was Eddie Cochran’s C’mon Everybody before the band left the stage to Adams, when he gave us love songs Please Forgive Me and then another slow ballad, Straight From The Heart before finishing the whole set with All For One.
Whilst many of his contemporaries who have scored similar successes have long since been forgotten, this rocker is still out there doing his thing, and based upon this stunning performance at The Capital FM Arena, he’s still doing it well.
Earlier this week I read on a social networking site a description of Adams as the ‘poor man’s Bruce Springsteen’ and in truth, I know what they meant. But they were wrong, so very wrong by a million miles. I agree that many of Adam’s songs have been written to ‘a formula’, but what a cracking formula it is, mixing tunes, melodies, and powerful lyrics with some pretty funky and dirty guitar playing.
Leaving the stage, Adams seemed genuinely moved by the reaction of the audience. As far as good old fashioned rock music goes, nobody does it better.