Rock ’n’ roll, arenas and hot, steamy nights were made to order for Bryan Adams, any day of the week.
The B.C.-bred musician didn’t invent arena rock, but he manages to take it to its highest level of crowd-cheering satisfaction as he more than amply demonstrated through an extra-long set Sunday night at Interior Savings Centre.
Three months into a homecoming tour, Adams packed a powerhouse of energy into three hours. For most of the show he had the chorus — which is to say practically the entire audience in a house crammed to the gunnels — under his sweet spell.
“Is it hot in here or is it just the fact that Bryan Adams’ here?” someone tweeted moments before the veteran rocker took to the stage with his four-man backup band.
Kamloops felt more like Kampala with the rain streaming down and a fog machine adding to the weather inside. Good thing there was no opening band, because the crowd was more than ready to rock. Like an old hand returning home, Adams gave ’em what they paid for, and more.
The band kicked off the set with House Arrest, Somebody and Here I Am as a superb video production exploded their images on a giant screen across the back of the stage. Split-screens, overhead, wide angle and closeups — as close as a camera mounted on the mike, inches from Adams face — enhanced the performance for all those who remained seated. There must have been three or four of us.
“This is a rock ’n’ roll concert,” Adams shouted after Can’t Stop This Thing We Started. “I don’t know what they told you before the show, but it’s OK if people stand up and dance.”
As though they needed encouragement.
The band seemed to have as much fun as the crowd, laughing and grinning through songs tailor-made for arena crowds — Kids Wanna Rock, Hearts on Fire and 18 til I Die, to name a few.
They played an extended set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Wakin’ Up the Neighbours. Remember that hit? It was about the time fans were wondering whether Adams’ track record would outlast the ’80s. Here, two decades later, was the living proof that rock ’n’ roll never dies.
There were some quieter moments. OK, there were moments when the arena wasn’t thundering with band and crowd. Keith Scott’s slide was a joy to behold on Back To You. His Spanish guitar was a touch overwhelmed on Thought I’d Die and Go To Heaven.
Stirring up the rhythm section, Mickey Curry kept beat with a kitchen-full of percussion — food buckets, pots and pans, etc. — on If You Wanna Leave Me (Can Come Too?). Lots of fun, and the audience lapped it up.
Nothing came close to matching the fervour that greeted Summer of ’69, though. It was as though everyone was reliving the best times when Bryan was — wait a minute — 10 years old?
They closed the first set with Adams’ break-out hit from 29 years ago, Cuts Like a Knife with the chorus chant that everybody knows. Like Adams himself, that edge is as sharp as ever.