Bryan Adams has played the largest venues in every corner of the world, sold 65 million records, sang for queens and performed at an opening ceremony for an Olympics. Monday, he played alone onstage at the Egg’s sold-out Hart Theater, a long way from his heady days of the ’80s.
He told us early on that he remembered playing at The Palace 30 years ago. “Count it, 30 years. ... Back then, I only had two songs. They were long.” He remembered that they taped the show for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, a syndicated live radio show. “That tape is somewhere.”
“This is the song that took me out of the Palace,” he said before playing “Cuts Like a Knife.”
He opened with “Run to You,” one of the many that helped catapult him into the next level or two of pop stardom. At age 52, his voice sounded as clear and strong as his prime days.
This was the Bare Bones tour, as in, no band, just him and a piano player. He lost a dear friend to a bicycle accident Monday, he told us, before dedicating “Heaven” to his friend.
He sang a lot of ballads Monday night, but this one felt like he let us in for a private moment. You could hear a pin drop at several points in the song.
He had a few funny moments, some rehearsed, some spontaneous. He pretended to bring Barbara Streisand out to the stage for “I Finally Found Someone,” a ballad he wrote and played for a movie she made. “Ladies and Gentleman ... she’s not here.”
He did the same thing with Sting and Rod Stewart later in the show. “There not here.” Corny stuff, but he still made you laugh.
“I’m looking for a wild woman who can dance,” Adams said midway through the show, infinitely comfortable alone on stage. A few women stood, waving their hands, only one danced for him. He had her stay standing and sang to her the sultry blues tune “If You Wanna Be Bad You Gotta Be Good.” As a reward for her dancing, he dedicated to her his next song, arguably his biggest ballad, “Everything I Do, I Do It For You.”
Two songs later he sang “Summer of ’69,” another iconic hit we all still hear on the radio and in supermarkets.
Other notable songs included “It’s Only Love,” from his ’84 “Reckless” album, “Somebody,” “You’ve Been a Friend to Me” and “Here I Am,” which he ended with the added lyrics, “without a band.”
He’s very comfortable interacting with the audience. Noticing two empty seats in the front, he picked two people from the back row and told them to come down front. Surely, he has done this before, but they are original moves and they work.
Typically, when one guy sings 20-plus love songs alone on guitar, the songs run into each other. Adams’ tunes stayed distinct. His writing is strong. Stripped to the bare bones — exposed — the songs kept their excitement, and some took on new tension given the more audible the lyrics.
Sure, Adams’s venue sizes continue to shrink as the years go on. But he’s adapted well and appears to be enjoying his newest formula. He put on a good show — his audience certainly liked it. So it’s his to ride for a good while if he wants it.