Live: Bryan Adams at Kravis Center, August 11

"Bare Bones Tour" Starring Bryan Adams
Kravis Center of the Performing Arts
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Better than: Any emo.

The review:

Inside the pristine sit-down "opera house" of Kravis Center, a very-ironed Bryan Adams called his songs babies last night.

Back on his 1997 MTV Unplugged performance, Adams had a ten-piece band, a 27-piece orchestra, a conductor, and so forth, but "now all I got is Gary Breit on the piano -- this economy!"  For the duration, a lone spotlight was over him, and when present, the tall blond sweet-faced Breit had a spotlight over him as

well. Note: The show didn't feel "acoustic" because Adams' voice was loud, and he strummed passion out of that guitar.

The crowd kept shouting out requests. "Listen," Adams said, "I got kinda a set list in

my mind. Don't screw it up." But later in the show, when someone from

the crowd yelled for Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird," Adams did play a good

portion of it, ending with the line: "I'm a West Palm Beach free bird." For "Cuts Like a Knife," a Scotsman played bagpipes down the aisle

and stood in front of Adams on the floor blowing to the tune, then returned

up the other aisle. Adams interrupted "Please Forgive Me" in the middle, saying, "It'd

be a great country song," and then that man started singing it with a

country twang. It fit perfectly.

Interspersed in Adams' intimate songcraft were some heartfelt, intimate intros -- he told a personal

story before every song. He told us how "Do I Have to Say the Words?" was added

to the set list. For the whole show, a lady was shouting for it. He

never played it because, frankly, he couldn't remember it. He was hoping

she would stop. Finally toward the end, she stood up and accosted him.

Would he play the song? He said, no. Then she smacked her husband and left

the show. So Adams relearned it, he said, so her husband wouldn't get

beat up. And that's how that song kicked off.

He later joked how someone in the audience was once smoking an

electronic cigarette -- and it looked like "a reefer." He told us how he went down to Jamaica to write a song for a couple of weeks and

left a year later with the 18 til I Die album. He played a few

chords... "That's all I can remember... [laughter] I be shitting ya, I know the

song," and he played "Let's Make a Night to Remember." There were tons

of hoots. Girls were swooning.

He told us of his travels and how music connects us all --

even through language barriers. One journalist once asked him, "What

does it mean, I 'got my first real sex dream'?"

Besides "Summer of '69," which had the whole JC Penny demographic (an exception was the man who wore a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey jersey in honor of Adams being Canadian) standing, hopping, and clapping -- other crowd favorites were up-tempto numbers "Can't

Stop This Thing We Started" and "Heat of the Night." The singalong for "Everything I Do (I Do It for You)" would get Kevin Costner to do a Robin Hood sequel. Someone call Morgan Freeman.

There was thunderous applause and standing ovations, and Adams clearly enjoyed every minute of singing songs from his 30-year-plus career.  After "Heaven," which he wrote when he was 23*, he invited a girl wearing

a white T-shirt from the top balcony -- and two of her friends (he

requested females) -- to come sit up-front. As he waited for them, he picked the Jeopardy theme. He asked the crowd to fill up aisles for the encore, which started after the soulful "Somebody."

Bryan Adams is a vocal powerhouse who unloaded from the beginning -- not

saving his voice for anything, creating an undeniable attachment between the audience and himself. Even

when his

voice broke ashy, those vocals were always full of life. There is something both masculine and feminine about his voice, but what comes from the gut is all man. He sang songs about still loving his woman, still wanting to touch the same woman, and every woman wants her man to sing songs like that to her. Every woman wants to be nurtured by a Bryan Adams. When he wrote "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman," he said, "the idea of the song was to write the most romantic song possible."

Critics notebook:

Personal bias: I attended the show with a close friend who's a

giant Bryan Adams fan, such a major fan who gushed incredible things

about the artist after the show. He called Bryan Adams a "purist." A

musician who has never had an "identity crisis" throughout his whole

career. It's thrilling watching a concert with someone that excited to

see the performer.

Random detail: Before the show, a middle-aged suburban couple turned their heads in their seats and snapped a picture of themselves with the backdrop of the piano on stage.

Random detail 2: Bryan Adams came out in a top hat. Each time he exited and reentered the

stage, he would be wearing that top hat. Then the piano player did the

same thing.

The crowd: They're all couples because they're all families. Kids were left at home.  It was like a dentist gala.

Crowd warmed-up: When the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" played over the intercoms. Before that, everyone was talking like they were watching trailers before a film.

Overheard in the crowd: About Adams: "He's very skinny."

By the way: The "Bare Bones Tour" kicked off in Florida years ago. And Adams has an animated movie coming out, where he's one of the characters. His name is Beaver Foreman.

Set list:
Run to You
How Do You Feel Tonight
Back to You
Here I Am
I'm Ready
Everything's Gonna Be Alright
Do I Have to Say the Words?
Can't Stop This Thing We Started
Let's Make a Night to Remember
You're Still Beautiful to Me
Heat of the Night
Not Romeo Not Juliet
Everything I Do (I Do It for You)
Cuts Like a Knife
Free Bird cameo
Please Forgive Me
Summer of '69
Walk on By
The Right Place
The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You
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

*All aforementioned facts about Bryan Adams spouted in this review were learned strictly from Bryan's stories at this show.

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Mickie Centrone