Album Review: Bryan Adams – Live At The Royal Albert Hall

It’s always a gamble when a band decide to play a whole album, in order, as part of a live show. Slayer got away with it for Reign in Blood partly because a) it’s a classic and b) it’s only half an hour so leaves plenty of time for other songs. Bowling For Soup managed it more recently (wow, five years ago) with Drunk Enough to Dance which fared well, but highlighted a couple of non-bangers. Bryan Adams, just because he’s Bryan Adams, opted to go not one but two better by playing three albums in full across three nights at the Royal Albert Hall.

Familiarity with his own “deep cuts” isn’t a surprise from Adams, given that he was taking shouted requests from the audience during his show in Glasgow last year. Whatever obscure song title was thrown at them, the band managed to strum out a verse and chorus or so. Impressive. At least with this string of London dates, they’ll have had a chance to rehearse the material so it should be even better!

The box set consists of three albums: Waking Up The NeigboursInto The Fire and Cuts Like A Knife. The first of these is presented as a superb live recording in front of a packed venue. Oddly the second two while being live recordings, and recorded at the venue… feature no crowd. The band use the stage like a recording studio so you have the songs “as live”, but not performed on the night of the shows. I’m sure there are reasons for this, and it’s a bit of a shame, but at least the recordings are flawless.

Plaudits to those who recorded all three albums, the sound is excellent. Whether with thousands of voices and applause mixed with the show, or the quieter, more intimate sets (despite being in a massive auditorium), all three albums couldn’t be better. Definitely worth wearing decent headphone for all three.

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There’s no real need to go through the tracks. They’re deserved classic rock albums and you’ll know the hits, but what these discs really give you the chance to do is to revisit those aforementioned deep cuts. We’ve turned into a world that streams playlists, where albums just aren’t given the attention they deserve. Where individual tracks are plucked out and others are left to moulder. It’s shows and albums like these that help us remember that there are more then three or four songs on an album, and that the should all be given a chance. For every “Can’t Stop This Thing We’re Starting” there’s a “Hey Honey, I’m Packing You In” that the audience knows every word to despite it not being released as a single. In fairness, seven songs from Waking… were actually released as singles, but not all of them charted that well.

One definitely did, and it’s saved for the end of the “properly live” show. I assume because it’s Adams’ biggest ever hit and indeed one of the biggest hits of all time ever, still holding the record for the longest consecutive run at number one in the UK. Yes, “Everything I Do” may be hated by many purely for its popularity, but it’s a belter of a power ballad and this extended rendition is as good as it gets. The video (below) is worth a watch a well, just to see the audience wallowing in it as well!

While the second two albums are a little disappointing as they lack the energy and feedback of a “proper” live album, they are still worth a listen. Indeed, hearing how good Adams and the band still are after all these years is impressive. Just listen to “Rebel” and try to comprehend that this is a live recording, 35 or so years after Adams first laid the song down. Jon Bon Jovi can’t sing in the key he was recording in back then. Toby Jepson regrets the high notes he sang with the Little Angels and has had to adjust his more recent versions to suit. Adams… good grief. Nails it.

So while the second two albums may be lacking an audience, they are still a phenomenal showcase of a band and artist riding the crest of a wave since the early 80s.

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Bryan Adams Live At The Royal Albert Hall is released on December 8th

Check out all the bands we review in 2023 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

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