Bryan Adams at the 3Arena, Dublin, 10th May 2016
Power ballads are a wonderful thing. They soundtrack many a romantic endeavour and many obstacles overcome. And somewhere along the way, Bryan Adams became the Canadian king of them. The man’s released 13 albums in which he dramatically professes his love to women against a backdrop of equally dramatic riffs and solos. His most recent album, ‘Get Up!’ which he is touring in support of, strays slightly from this formula, favouring a more ‘dad rock’ approach.
That seems to be the tone of the evening at the 3Arena. Initially, it is far from being a whimsy, nostalgic look back at his gargantuan career to date. Adams comes across more as an overly zealous middle-aged man in band, eager to show his skills off to his mates at his pub gig debut.
With that said, none of what Adams does is technically bad. Do What You Gotta Do, though met with fairly little fanfare, is a solid performance. The graphics are playful and modern, ranging from models picking his nose, to wacky moving light tunnels.
Bar two falterings on Don’t Even Try and Into The Fire, Adams is a hearty vocalist. It’s a struggle to think of another artist who’s been on the go as long as him, and hasn’t seen their vocal ability suffer. On It’s Only Love, originally sung with Tina Turner, his lead guitarist Keith Scott attempts to harmonise with him, and fails miserably. However, the pair turn it into a fun exchange, and it’s probably Scott’s only slip-up of the night. He is the perfect accompaniment to Adams, tearing shreds out of the solos on Run To You, and rivalling the leading man in terms of energy as he hops around the stage – literally.
Go Down Rockin’ is another blaze of strings, with Adams’ long-time drummer Mickey Curry unleashing a sizeable guitar solo. Adams’ tells the crowd that Mickey is Irish, (though a quick Google search doesn’t confirm that).
Adams commands an audience without necessarily being commanding himself – his back catalogue does all the work for him. Heaven is overwhelmed with Irish voices for the first verse. Summer Of ’69 sees women fist-pumping so violently, they have to be told repeatedly to sit down. “I feel like we’re getting somewhere now …” he says, following the performances.
He’s getting good mileage out of the heartthrob image he established in the ’80s – the video playing on screen for You Belong To Me sees him being groped by a female model. He invites two ladies from the crowd to dance for the duration of If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good.
As the night progresses, it’s the latter half of the show that sees him take it from intensely sharp to mute and tender. His duet with Mel C, When You’re Gone, is performed acoustically, and it’s delivered with a lot of charm. Everything I Do (I Do It For You) is also performed much more modestly, beginning softly, with the other instruments falling in accordingly.
Highlights of the night include Into The Fire, an intensely engrossing performance, of one of his darkest songs – something Adams himself admits on the night. All For Love, his collaboration with Sting and Rod Stewart, sees him set emotional over the crowd’s “beautiful singing”.
It’s not by any means a perfect show, and that’s probably because Bryan Adams is not a perfect artist. I mean, who is? Ultimately, his newer material is not exciting or original. His cheesy method of song-writing has been lamented the world over, to an unjust degree. His influence on modern day pop cannot be denied – many of his major ear-worms from the ’80s and ’90s wouldn’t be out of place on the next Ed Sheeran album, that’s for sure.
Adams has paved the way for the new era of power ballad champions. For his age bracket, he still delivers a solid two hour show. He just needs to consider parking the new stuff for a while … Or forever.