A crowd-pleasing set from the Groover from Vancouver
Def Leppard may have had to join forces with Alice Cooper and Thin Lizzy to sell out the Odyssey earlier this month, but fellow 80s rock stalwart Bryan Adams has no such worries.
The croaky-voiced, squillion-selling housewives’ favourite (or perhaps more grannies’ favourite these days) can still fill arenas on his tod – and it’s all down to his canny reinvention as a clean-cut, easy-on-the-ear entertainer.
Apart from a top hat-wearing skull motif on his drummer’s bass drum, there are few signs here of the 'Groover from Vancouver’s' past as a denim-clad, blond-mopped hard rocker. Adams, a professional photographer when he’s not making music, has fully embraced his arty side, and so the theme for tonight is tasteful black and white.
The band are soberly attired, while Adams himself sports a slicked-over hairstyle. Thankfully, his songs remain the same catchy, fun anthems we all fell in love with in our youth.
Starting with ‘House Arrest’ from his Mutt Lange-produced Waking Up the Neighbours album (20 years old this year) Adams delivers hit after hit, dipping into his post-1990s catalogue only twice. He knows full well that no one has come for ‘Here I Am’, from the soundtrack of animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, or ‘You’ve Been a Friend to Me’, from the movie Old Dogs.
People want ‘Can’t Stop This Thing We Started’, ‘Summer of ’69’ and ‘Run to You’, and, boy, do they get them – knocked out with passion and energy by the Canadian star and his long-time, four-piece band. Lead guitarist Keith Scott in particular excels himself. The musician has been by Adams’s side for most of his career, and his meaty riffs and squealing solos almost steal proceedings from under the main man’s nose.
But Adams has more than a few trump cards up his sleeve. Ubiquitous ballad ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It for You’ may be a two-decade-old concoction of cheese and sugar, but it can still get 14,000 people crooning along – and there are more ballads where that came from. ‘Let’s Make a Night to Remember’, ‘Please Forgive Me’ and ‘Heaven’ appeal to the inner MILF in us all.
Sure, for anyone who has seen Adams before, there may be a sense of déjà vu throughout tonight’s performance. He still leads a mass 'na-na-na' during ‘Cuts Like a Knife’, and again wheels out the old pull-a-fan-from-the-audience-to-join-him-in-a-duet stunt for ‘When You’re Gone’ (though tonight’s choice is no Mel C, and that’s saying something). But quibbles aside this is an excellent evening.
‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, which Adams penned for Ronan Keating, closes the show, along with an acoustic rendition of ‘Straight from the Heart’. It’s not quite as exciting as the AC/DC and Moon Mullican covers from his previous Belfast gig, in 2007, but Adams is no spring chicken.
‘Someday I’ll be 18 going on 55,’ he rasps during ‘18 til I Die’ – and that day is looming. Adams turns 52 in November. Still, on this evidence he’s not ready to hang up his battered six-string just yet.