Concert Reviews

Bryan Adams / The Dunwells Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 12, 2017    
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Bryan Adams / The Dunwells - Ageas Bowl, Southampton (UK) - 07 July 2017

Even though this show edged me up to, or possibly even past (as the years roll by it gets harder to keep count) the twenty show mark for Bryan Adams gigs, it had been over five years since I last went to one and almost double that again since my last open-air performance from him. When I saw he was playing a reasonably local show to me in Southampton, it seemed the perfect opportunity to see The Groover From Vancouver once again and add another entry to the list.

I don't think you could have asked for a better evening for this concert. It was a warm and sunny summer evening with the venue being the rather atheistically pleasing Ageas Bowl. Given the majority of the gigs I now attend are at smaller clubs or theatres, the queue felt quite long but regardless of whether this was actually true or down to perception, the crowd seemed to whittle down quite quickly and it wasn't long before I was in and had selected my spot between the stage and cordoned off wicket area.

The support act this evening was The Dunwells, a Pop Rock band from Leeds. Their performance featured both strummed acoustic and ringing lead guitar which gave the songs on show a bright and airy feel despite it being a little bass heavy at times. The guitars were crisp as were the vocals which included plenty of good harmonised moments throughout. Their seven song set nicely suited the moment. The crowd stood and watched the band whilst they soaked up the atmosphere as the sun slowly started to set behind the stage. However, for me personally, it was a bit one-paced with each song built around fairly similar tempos. Only the penultimate track really injected any pace into proceedings and the crowd responded accordingly with more clapping and enthusiasm. It was an amiable start to the gig and they received a decent applause for their efforts.

Bryan Adams Live 1

Right on the advertised time, the screens played a short video of Adams before he and the band appeared on stage and launched into 'Do What Ya Gotta Do' from his latest album 'Get Up'. The sound was crystal clear, from the rhythm section to the guitars and vocals, and there was no let-up in quality, enthusiasm, energy or entertainment from the first notes to the very last. This new track was swiftly followed by two older numbers in the shape of a fabulous rendition of 'House Arrest' (a track I have always loved) and fan favourite 'Can't Stop This Thing We Started'. When combined with 'Do What...', it made for an excellent one-two-three opening salvo to the show. The band were clearly in very fine form and Adams' ability to expertly whip up a crowd and get the most out of them was once again on full display. Right from the start the audience were equally enthusiastic in return as they clapped, danced, sang and cheered. During an early pause, he informed everyone that he intended to play some new songs, some old songs, some really new songs and some really, really old songs and he was absolutely true to his word throughout the two hour show.

Bryan Adams Live 2

Sandwiched between two more tracks from the new album ('Don't Even Try' complete the video featuring David Walliams on the back screen and 'Go Down Rockin'') was the first true classic in 'Run To You'. While Adams has always shaken his set-lists up, I was a touch surprised to see this one appear quite so early, nevertheless the crowd responded with vigour and it really took things up a notch. 'Heaven' was the first time the band slowed things down and it gave the crowd an opportunity to take over the vocals for the intro, before a delightful solo from Adams ever-present partner in crime Keith Scott. I must add the timing of this was spot on as it provided a beautiful moment being played at the same time as the sun finally set. Adams then went even further back in time with the appearance of 'This Time' which also had the original promo video displayed on the big rear screen at the same time. It was quite a contrast to see the very young Adams on screen as the now older musician stood on stage as he performed it in front of the video. The old-school fans reacted with joy to the inclusion of this one. One of the highlights of the night was 'It's Only Love' which saw Scott absolutely let rip with some stunning guitar work which included a fine intro, awesome solo and even the guitar being swung round his neck.

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'Cloud #9' and 'You Belong To Me' had the crowd in full boogie and we even witnessed bassist Norm Fisher bent over as his backside was slapped by Scott and Adams. It was evident that everyone who was present was having a blast. The unmistakeable chords of 'Summer Of 69' struck up and the place went wild. If you have ever witnessed this song live you will know exactly what a party it created with plenty of crowd involvement. It was another of the night's highlights but the question of what was the main set going to close with began to run around my head as most of the obvious choices were slowly being marked off. 'When You're Gone' had a great back and forth moment between band and crowd, and this lead into the extend version of his humungous hit '(Everything I Do) I Do It For You' where the crowd swayed and sang during this spine-tingling offering. They continued to respond during a lively rendition of 'Back To You' and were in fine voice when called upon by Adams during a brilliant version of 'Somebody'. As the night-time skies became dark, things were slowed down once again with 'Have You Every Really Loved A Woman?' and a beautiful version of 'Please Forgive Me' which is another sentimental favourite of mine. The tempo was lifted again straight after this slow one-two with 'Cuts Like A Knife' which featured another call and response moment during the "na, na, na" section. The main set closed out with two immensely entertaining and energetic selections as the crowd sang in full voice to '18 'Til I Die' and another all-time personal favourite 'The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You'. The latter featured a rather colourful light show which included the images on the big screens bordered by various bright colours.

The encore opened with the new album's lead single 'Brand New Day' before the band slipped in to party mode with covers of 'C'mon Everybody' and 'All Shook Up'. As has been customary in the last few shows I have seen from Adams, the night ended with him alone on stage with just his acoustic guitar. After some heartfelt words, he serenaded the crowd with 'Straight From The Heart' and 'All For Love' before he left the stage to rapturous applause.

Bryan Adams Live 3

I am so pleased I went to this show as it really was a brilliant gig, even if it may not have quite scaled the heights of an eighty thousand plus audience show at Wembley from the nineties. Adams voice sounds as good today as it ever has and when combined to his undiminished ability to work a crowd like few others, you are always guaranteed a superb night. I must add a special mention about Scott who remains one of the most talented yet underrated guitarists in the business, someone who always provides a few "wow" moments every show. If there was any minor downside to tonight it was possibly the number of people that attended. From upon the top level just before he came on stage, you could see that the standing area was only about half full with large areas at the rear sparsely populated (with seating it was harder to tell). Maybe it was due to the location or maybe it was down to the gig being on a Friday night? Either way, it surprised me a little but those that were there certainly had a ball and it felt quite full down the front so it's possible many arrived just as or just after he came on stage.

Bryan Adams Live 4

Thirty-seven years after his self-titled debut, and with an arsenal of hits that very few artists can match, Bryan Adams continues to be one of the world's very best live performers. His show at Southampton provided clear and continued evidence of this (if it was even needed) and for me it was certainly a night to remember.

Dave Scott (photos by Michelle Compton & Dave Scott)

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