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The Bryan Adams 'Bare Bones' Concert Experience - A Review
Bryan Adams strips his music down to its very foundation - just guitar chords and vocals - on his "Bare Bones" concert tour. And the songs don't just hold up; they pierce the skin, get right down under the rib cage, and, at the risk of sounding corny, work their way into your heart. This is what music is really about, and Adams has the talent to make simple simply sensational.
The "Bare Bones" tour was born as an experiment in 2008, according to the liner notes in Adams' album of the same name. Adams had been hankering to do more pared down shows after recording his MTV "Unplugged" album in 1996. The shows were successful, so much so that fans wanted a recording of the songs just like they'd heard them onstage. Adams released the "Bare Bones" album in 2010.
The "Bare Bones" tour continues today. In 2012 and 2013, Adams toured North America, Europe, Australia, Mexico, Canada and Japan.
Though he sometimes still plays arenas with a full band, Adams chooses smaller venues for his "Bare Bones" set, allowing him to be more intimate with the crowd. He interacts with audience members, sometimes teasing, sometimes insulting (all in jest), and yes, he takes requests.
The song line up includes classics and mega hits like "Summer of '69;" "Heaven;" "Cuts Like a Knife;" and "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You;" along with lesser known tunes like "You've Got A Friend In Me;" "It Ain't A Party (If You Can't Come 'Round); and "I Still Miss You....A Little Bit."
"I don't know if you got the memo about tonight's show, but this is the band," Adams says. That would be him, with a guitar and harmonica, and on a few selections, gifted pianist Gary Breit.
The backup band isn't missed, even a little bit, save for on "Summer of '69," which loses a little of its rock n' roll edge. Had the song not become so anthemic, it probably wouldn't matter much, but it's a classic and it's hard to be satisfied with anything that veers slightly left of the original.
But for the most part, the set is knockout fantastic. Adams writes his songs with an acoustic guitar, and when all the fancy instrumentation is removed, it turns out, they can stand alone just beautifully.
What's your favorite Bryan Adam's song?
Portraits of influential American women by musician and photographer Bryan Adams
So it's a shame Adams isn't given enough credit as an artist. His lyrics are deceptively simple. Deceptive in that he makes writing a song that stands the test of 30 years look easy. His brand of rock has repeatedly been called the meat and potatoes variety, perhaps a nice way of saying it's not all that complex. But let's not forget, meat and potatoes are the foundation of the meal. It's good, solid stuff, and people have been rocking out (and making out) to these songs for three decades. Give Adams fair due: He knows how to make music that remains relevant.
Not many artists can take the stage in blue jeans and a black shirt, accessorized with nothing but a guitar, and captivate an audience. But he does it. And the raw edge the music takes on is thrilling.
At a January 2013 concert near Atlanta, the man didn't hit a bad note all night. He sounded just as good, no, better, than you've heard him on the radio, his trademark raspy voice having a bit more gravel in it these days.
Surprisingly soulful, Adams delivered a beautiful tribute to his favorite singer, Ray Charles, by singing a song he wrote for the late legend but "forgot to give it to him" called, "The Right Place." He followed it up with a stunning version of "I Can't Stop Loving You," which has to be one of the best renditions of the song that anyone, including Charles, has ever sung.
Adams stopped the show to sign an autograph for a fan who'd brought along her 1983 "Cuts Like a Knife" LP. He even mimicked his cheesy pose on the album cover. At one point, he broke into a country twang, getting whoops and hollers from his Southern audience. (And darn if the guy can't sing country, too.)
Adams clearly wears his rock icon status lightly. He knows when to pull back - he tours only about 10 days a month, is fiercely protective of his private life and spends his time off the road pursuing other interests, like photography - and he also knows when to pull out all the stops. He may only take the stage 10 days a month, but he does it right, and he leaves everything he's got out there. Maybe that's why he's still around.
His formula is still garnering new fans. Two young girls who looked to be in their late teens, early 20s, attended the Atlanta show. It was their second Adams' concert; a few months earlier they'd taken their dad, a long-time fan, to a show for his birthday. Adams handpicked the girls to come down from the nosebleed section and take a spot on the front row - something he does at about every show - and two forever fans, who weren't even alive when "Cuts Like a Knife" was released, were born.
Those girls are of the generation that listens to songs about booty-shakin', sung by 'artists' who trust in Auto-Tune to cover up their inadequacies along with a hefty helping of half-naked background dancers and pyrotechnics. But they found something pure, and they were screaming like it was the second coming of Elvis.
Call this reviewer an old fogey, but there's nothing wrong with music that actually sounds like music. There's something spiritual about the real deal. I'll take Adams any day, full band or solo, however he wants to play. But I prefer him stripped down to the bare bones.
Click here to find out if Adams will be in a city near you:
Check out these amazing acoustic performances by Bryan Adams:
- Bryan Adams - Run To You - Peace One Day Gala - YouTube
Bryan Adams performing Run To You at the Peace One Day Gala '08
- Bryan Adams - Straight From The Heart - YouTube
Bryan Adams - Straight From The Heart https://twitter.com/#!/bryanadams
© 2013 Crystal Tatum