Bryan Adams
Newcastle Metro Arena
Thursday 24th November 2011

Alan Harrison


Just as the last notes from Sheena is a Punk Rocker faded away the house lights dimmed and the roar from the 10,000 strong crowd must have been heard over the river in Gateshead and when the spotlight hit him, the smile on Bryan Adam’s face would have lit up three streets there too.


I had no idea what to expect tonight as I’m not really a huge fan; but I had my breath taken away as the Canadian Rocker absolutely owned the stage from the start to the finish. He ran around like a teenager and threw every Rock Guitar ‘shape’ in the book but it only added to the occasion and never came close to detracting from the songs; and it was the songs that his infatuated fans had come to hear.


Speaking of the ‘songs;’ I was genuinely surprised at how many I actually recognised and every single one filled the huge Arena with their remarkable power and energy.


Adams looked spectacularly fit; which he needed to be as the concert lasted 2 hours and 20 minutes with very only a smattering of slow songs in between the all out rockers that had the audience bopping and punching the air too.


Of course Summer of 69 was greeted before, during and after like the Rock Classic it is, but Lets stop this thing, 18 til I die and Run to You all had tushes of varying sizes shaking as if their owners lives depended on it.


At every given opportunity Adams would raise his right arm which was the command for his acolytes to bellow out the chorus to whatever song he was singing. It might not be my idea of fun but 9,999 other people seemed to be having the time of their lives.


For an Arena show the lighting was kept deceptively simple all night, and when the opening chords to Everything I Do resonated around the cavernous building, Adams was suddenly bathed in a neon crown of light that was perfectly fitting for a song as utterly brilliant as this. I know it’s easy to be cynical about a ‘love song’ that has sold as many copies as this has, but listen to it….actually listen to the words and melody and the song genuinely is one of the best pop songs ever.


As I said I wasn’t a huge fan of Bryan Adams, but All I Want is You, The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me (is You) and Rescue Me all have deceptively clever lyrics and made my buy his Greatest Hits the following morning.


The Canadian’s foil for the evening was the Master of the Five Finger Shuffle on the freeboard, Keith Scott with whom he reprised the famous Bowie/Ronson ‘simulation act’ at one stage; much to the crowds delight.


Surprisingly enough, the highlight of the evening was when Adams stopped the show to invite someone on stage to join him for ‘Baby When You’re Gone.’ “Oh dear;” I thought, “This is going to be a bit ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and not in a good way,” but I needn’t have worried because tonight’s willing volunteer was a fuller figured accountant called Emma from Newcastle who stole the show. She admitted that she couldn’t sing a note, but slinkily moved and grooved and flirted with Mr. Adams for the duration and wouldn’t leave the stage until she’d kissed each member of the band.


If I have a gripe it’s my regular one – bloody camera phones! Ok, it was cute when they were waved around during the slow love songs but, trust me on this, you cannot take a decent photo of an act in an Arena on one from 100 yards away; you just can’t! Then of course there is the constant Social Networking malarkey that went on all night….stop it! Watch the bloody concert!


Oh; if I think about it the band could have shaved a good 15 minutes off the show by not dragging out their solos, especially the drummer’s solo on some pots and pans. It was funny for a couple of minutes but not 5!


I hold my hand up, basically I’m a music snob, just like the majority of people reading this review (be honest) and I’m certainly not a lover of gigantic Arena gigs, but this simple, noisy and rocking show completely won me over – I’m a convert, Bryan Adams is officially COOL!

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Tags: Adams, Bryan, Canadian, Rocker

Comment by Kyla Fairchild on December 2, 2011 at 6:04pm

Bob Lefsetz is beyond prolific with his blogging and so I don't get a chance to read all of them but I do try to read them as often as I can. Tonight he posted a blog about Bryan Adams and while I know it wasn't, it almost felt like a direct response to my question above.  Not that I agree with everything he says but I do tend to respect his opinion and his take on things.  It appears I need to dig a little deeper and give Bryan a chance.
Here's an excerpt from his blog: (Here's a link to the full post)

One of the problems with becoming ultra-successful, rolling the ball right up the middle for a strike, is that the naysayers take over public opinion, the hipsters that control the media, and you don't get your due.

Bryan Adams has one of the best voices in rock and roll. Right up there with Rod Stewart. You believe he believes every word he's singing. There's this throaty element that conveys emotion, he's the opposite of the boasting rappers. It's become anathema to display weakness in our society, politicians cannot say they're wrong, sure, there are apologies, but they're momentary detours on the way back to winning. But life isn't like that, life is complicated, it's three-dimensional, sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes it eats you. When Bryan Adams sings, you hear all that. "Straight From The Heart" is a plea that evidences no misery, we're not turned off, we just want to say we feel the same way. And in this duplicitous world, that's exactly what we want and so rarely get, the story straight from the heart.

But the killer is the title cut, "Cuts Like A Knife".

Ain't that how it always is. At least with vinyl records. You drop the needle on your favorite cut, and suddenly the one after it, the one the album slips into when you can't lift the tonearm, ends up becoming your favorite.

"Drivin' home this evening
I coulda sworn we had it all worked out
You had this boy believin'
Way beyond the shadow of a doubt"

The calm before the storm. Just when you start to relax, when the fight is behind you...that's when you've got to worry.

"Then I heard it on the street
I heard you mighta found somebody new
Well who is he baby - who is he
And tell me what he means to you"

You're always the last to know. How can you be so close, yet out of the loop? And the thought of her with another drives you freakin' nuts. The thought of someone else touching her makes your skin crawl.

"I took it all for granted
But how was I to know
That you'd be letting go"

Letting go. Like untying the rope holding the boat to the pier. Just slipping away. Letting go of the grip. We think of endings as combustible affairs, explosions. We can understand that, but when you just turn's like dropping the thermostat, it takes us a while to realize it's cold inside.

And then there are the little touches... Especially the organ right after Bryan sings "Times I thought I'd been misunderstood", it hearkens back to the relationship, it adds a dollop of sepia-tinged nostalgia in between the anger.

(Continued below. This was too long for the comment field)

Comment by Kyla Fairchild on December 2, 2011 at 6:08pm

But really, the song starts to peak with the "na-nas".

Nonsense lyrics just like the early days of rock and roll, like in that old song by Steam, it's when everybody in the band comes together, when Bryan's buddies surround and defend him, that's when the magic becomes undeniable. Everybody's been doing his own thing, the guitar's been wailing, the drums have been pounding, but suddenly they're all of one mind, they're locked on, it goes on and on. "Cuts Like A Knife" might not have the reputation of "Free Bird", but it's not dissimilar. They both build, they're both infectious, you play them once and then have to play them over and over again.

And then there's "I'm Ready". This isn't about the end, but the beginning. He's ready to love you, and when the organ twirls in the chorus, you feel the adrenaline of love.

But as good as "I'm Ready" is, it's cut to shreds by the slowed down take on "MTV Unplugged", with the acoustic picking and string background. Suddenly, the meaning is different, instead of bluster, you get wistfulness. And instead of the organ, you get strings in the chorus, and a descending line that evidences a brand new hook. It's so intimate, you're almost creeped out.

Some of the greats are sitting right in our midst. It's fun to excavate the obscurities, try to shine a little light on work that's been unjustly overlooked, but sometimes the mega-platinum artists are such because they're just that damn good.

Bryan Adams blinked a couple of albums later, with "Into The Fire", his political project made in response to the critics who wanted meatier subject matter, but if you let other people dictate your direction, you're screwed. You've got to do it your way, you've got to be yourself. So Bryan is singing about adolescence and love... There's nothing wrong with that, it's universal, it's the human condition.

Yes, it's the follow-up to "Cuts Lke A Knife", "Reckless", that went nuclear, with "Run To You" and "Summer of '69". But I always preferred "Cuts Like A Knife", it was just a little less obvious, a little more subtle, there was little success to build upon, Bryan Adams still had to prove himself.

Don't be too proud to dig this music.

It's great.


Here's a link to a You Tube video of the album version of the song and here's a link to a great acoustic version. I wish I could post them both here in the comments but embedding is disabled for both unfortunately.

Comment by Will James on December 2, 2011 at 6:10pm

There you go. Nice.

Comment by Harrisonaphotos on December 3, 2011 at 2:47am

Bob Lefsetz - I salute you sir and Kyla - have a great big hug from Northern England. I always try to mame my concert reviews as 'honest' as possible and I was quite cynical in my approach to the show and he genuinely knocked me sideways with his 'honesty' - the way that Bob put it far more eloquently.

   At one stage I was going to compare him to Brooooce, but resisted. I've seen Brooooocce a couple of times and the show was inch perfect each time; although the hype suggests otherwise......all I ask is you give (the likes of) Bryan Adams another chance and actually 'listen' to his songs.

    Ladies and gentlemen; I rest my case for the Defense.


Comment by John Jobling on December 4, 2011 at 10:42am
Bryan Adams was never and cant be cool. But he is a musician that knows how to put on a show and how to play to an audience.

I also think this site/forum is knowledgable enough and accepting enough to embrace and consider all types of music.
Comment by Gringo on December 4, 2011 at 2:05pm

Kathleen Edwards (imo the coolest woman in rock, let alone americana)  has sung backing vocals on a Bryan Adams album, toured with him, and duetted with him at the Juno Awards (Canada's Grammys).  And as she states on her Twitter bio ( "don't make me choose between bryan adams and ryan adams.  i won't do it."  I'm with Kathleen.

Comment by Andy Whorehall on December 4, 2011 at 5:15pm

Thank you for pointing out how great Bryan is.  I have been a huge supporter of the Canadian songwriter since my childhood.  To quote another great, Canadian songwriter, Kathleen Edwards, "Don't make me choose between Ryan Adams and Bryan Adams." Whether yawl know this or not, but David Ryan Adams and Bryan Adams share the same birth date- true.
Read more, I covered Bryan's "Reckless" awhile ago for N. IL's Sock Monkey Sound podcast.
Enjoy, read here!

Comment by BlueRick on December 6, 2011 at 4:08am

ALL music should be welcomed here. Music is the glue that holds people together.

Comment by Harrisonaphotos on December 6, 2011 at 4:13am

I thank you; young man.....but even I know that there should be some boundaries albeit self-imposed

Comment by BlueRick on December 6, 2011 at 4:36am

I'll stand by my statement. But the self imposed thing works for me.


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.