Gig Review: Bryan Adams – Hydro, Glasgow (23rd May 2022)

It’s not often you get a concert with no support act, and I have a feeling with a doors opening time of 6:30 that perhaps there was one planned but for some reason the decision was made to make this a one-act tour. The main event kicked off a little after 8pm so there was definitely time for someone to play an hour’s warmup… but then they’d have been instantly forgotten by what followed.

Who else can say they’ve opened a show with narration from John Cleese? Lifted directly from So Happy It Hurts “Kick Ass”, the intro was perfection itself. Adding Cleese’s dramatic, but tongue in cheek dialogue to a belting set of stage lights and you have a stage entrance that is up there amongst the best I’ve ever seen. OK, KISS having the stage lit up by a hovering helicopter at Monsters of Rock maybe pips it. Just.

Opening with a new track can sometimes be a risk, but not when it’s as good as this one. Following with two classics is safer territory, especially when the crowd goes wild with recognition at the opening chord as they did with “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started”. And “Run To You”. And, in honesty, pretty much every song throughout the 2-hour show.

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“Shine A Light” was a subtle call for the lights to go down and the phone torches to pop on, glowing like a field of stars. The band pulled the same trick with a short burst of the song later in the show with the same result. This looked absolutely beautiful on the screen at the back of the stage as we saw it from Adams’ perspective. Actually, a shout out to the crew handling the non-musical end of things. Bryan Adams’ stage setup is fairly simply, just a big screen and some lights. No flash-pots or flames (though, dammit, they would have been the chocolate sprinkles on the icing on the cherry on the cake), but what we were given really enhanced the evening. The live crowd shots were slipped in perfectly, and the camera work was top notch. Take a bow, visual techs!

A shout out, also, to the audience who sounded fantastic. Adams didn’t even sing the opening verse of “Heaven”, Glasgow instead doing the song justice with a spine-chilling crowd rendition. Seriously, if they’re recording any of these shows for a live album… this is the one they should be using.

What else did we have? Adam’s reminiscing about being 24 and recording a song, “It’s Only Love”, with the legend that was and still is Tina Turner. I mean… at 24? That takes some serious talent (and balls) while also reminding everyone present that this was nigh on 40 years ago. Bryan’s longevity is partly due to this talent, and also to the partnership he’s had over the years with guitarist Keith Scott who was, as ever, strumming away at a gorgeously beat-up six string and rocking it as hard as the frontman.

With sixteen albums to draw from, there was no shortage of songs to throw at the audience. I mean, how can you not enjoy a show featuring “The Only Thing That Looks Good On You”, “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman”, “18 Till I Die”, “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”… and then have Adams casually pull some song about summertime out of the back pocket of those trademark jeans?

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Sick of playing the same set each night? Fine, ask the audience to pick some obscure songs out of the air and play a bit of those. “One Night Love Affair”, “Remember”, “The Best Was yet To Come”, and “Native Son” were given abbreviated airings as a result of that little sequence.  Then there’s the encore bit and Adams declaring that they were wrapping the show up three songs later with the lovely “These Are The Moments That Make Up My Life”… only to do a further three songs as a solo acoustic performance (with bonus harmonica). Pretty much the best busker you’ve ever seen. His voice is superb, maintaining that edge of hoarseness he’s always had while still managing to hit some staggering highs.

Honestly, I’ve been home for over an hour and I’m still buzzing. Bryan Adams is an act I’ve been wanting to see for years, and this is the first time I’ve caught him live. I was giggling at the sheer rock of that opening. I had goosebumps throughout the opening three songs. I was stamping my foot, clapping, singing and bouncing for the whole damn gig. I am still grinning. I think my face is broken.

Sometimes you build things up to the point where the real thing just can’t possibly compete. Bryan Adams exceeded all my expectations and left me feeling like a teenager seeing one of his first gigs and realising how fucking amazing live music can be. Bryan, on the remote off-chance you’re reading this… thank you!

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