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Bryan Adams review: Cardiff Motorpoint Arena 2011

If you've heard a song so much that you think you can't ever hear it again, how can you hope to enjoy two hours by the same artist? Bryan Adams proved me wrong in Cardiff

As soon as I found out that it was going to be a night out with Bryan Adams his song, that shall not be named, lodged itself into my mind and refused to relinquish its grip. Even an hour into his set I could still hear it regardless of the track that he was playing which is testament to the sheer determination of a song that spent 16 weeks at number one when it used to be difficult to sell enough copies to get there. But enough about this, for now, how was the night?

They were queueing around the block to get into the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff to see Canada's darling of soft rock Bryan Adams, but this was never going to be a rough crowd, and they were all well behaved and polite, eager to get in out of the cold, stake their place and get a beer. Bryan hit the stage running and launched into a set which stretched for well over two hours and covered, as best you could, every milestone track from his 30 years in the business. They were all in there, from "Somebody" and "Run to You" to "18 till I Die" and "Can't Stop This Thing We Started", and the crowd loved it. Being a Welsh audience they were in stereotypically good form, demonstrated excellently when Bryan sang the first line of "Summer of 69" and left the crowd to sing, a cappella, the rest of the verse before taking over again.

It wasn't all perfect audience participation though. Apparently Bryan always chooses a member of the audience to sing with him on stage and this night was no different as he discussed, at length, who to pick from the crowd to sing his duet that he originally did with Mel 'Sporty Spice" C, "When You're Gone" (and one I have to confess to being quite fond of). It was all going so well for the lucky lady until she got to the microphone; "Where are you from?" asked Bryan, "Hampshire" she replied to what can only be described as a wall of boos and heckles from the audience, like a dissatisfied rugby crowd. Top tip for anyone in this situation, if asked, say you're from Wales. Fortunately she did know all the words, but the cacophony that came out was absolutely hilarious, even Bryan struggled to remain in tune, but damn, did she give it everything she had, bumping and grinding with Bryan and belting out every word like her life depended on it. Funniest collaboration I have seen in years, so Jo from Hampshire, I thank you. "You're a brave girl for coming up here and having the balls to do it" said Bryan. Quite right.

Bryan Adams isn't heavy metal, he's soft to medium-hard rock at best, and in his genre he is quite superb, which is why there were a few moments that did not sit well amongst an otherwise spotless night. When the lively track, "It's Only Love" which was originally a duet with Tina Turner, started with guitarist Keith Scott taking Tina's role (vocally, of course) it was going really well until the guitar solos started. Do you recall the end of Back to the Future, when Marty McFly did his guitar solo to the astonished crowd, well it was like that. He was playing behind his head, slinging his guitar around like a hula hoop and generally just interrupting a superb song. I'm sure fans wouldn't have noticed if they were caught up in the moment, but personally I felt it was quite out of context and probably would not have been had the rest of the band kept playing and not left him to do his thing. The other moment of indulgence was when Scott and drummer Mickey Curry came to the front of the stage to play the pots and pans. I loved it, it worked really well in the context of the track and I have always liked "Stomp" and unusual percussion and broke up the set excellently. It went downhill though when Curry continued to play on his own. For the first 20 seconds it was great, but a minute later I wanted to scream for it to stop which was a real shame.

Fortunately, after Curry's pots and pans the lights dimmed and Bryan returned and launched gently into "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You". The wave of love that flooded through the arena was quite something. People danced with each other, in tight embrace, arms draped around loved ones and no small amount of people stared into each other's eyes to sing their anthem to one another. The song that had defiled my mind for days was suddenly everywhere and at high volume, I could not escape its grasp, and, to be honest, I rather enjoyed it. When you look and see what the song meant to the crowd you could see exactly how it had been number one for so long and it was nice to hear it when it was not being mercilessly piped into every radio and TV programme for months at a time. Adams did the song half way through the set, which was a surprise, I expected it to be milked for hours as the last track, so it was testament to his comprehensive back catalogue and confidence in the rest of the set. He ended with "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Straight From The Heart", but my highlights were "Run To You", "Summer of 69", the karaoke version of "When You're Gone" and of course "That Song".

A night with Bryan Adams is, without doubt, a great thing for anyone who has even a passing resemblance to a liking of the Canadian singer songwriter. It was uplifting, had more moments to sing along with that you would expect, and was exceptionally good value. It's no surprise that he has won many awards and has been inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he has had a prolific career and his experience really shows when it comes to his live performances. All I need to do now is to forgive him for not being able to expunge "That Song" from my mind and it will go down as a surprisingly good night.

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Derren Nugent
4th December 2011
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Bryan Adams review: Cardiff Motorpoint Arena 2011

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