|Veteran Vancouver rocker Bryan Adams pulled into the Air Canada Centre on May 3, 2012, as part of his first cross-Canada tour in 20 years. (Stan Behal/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - Raspy-voiced veteran Canadian rocker Bryan Adams played the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night as part of his first cross-Canada tour in twenty years.
The road trip is to honor the 20th anniversary of Adams’ Waking Up The Neighbours tour with him playing 20 tour dates in Canada in April, May and June.
But it sure didn’t feel like two decades had passed for the still energetic and youthful-looking 52-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist, who was born in Kingston, Ont., found rock superstardom in Vancouver in the ‘80s, and now spends a lot time in London with girlfriend Alicia Grimaldi and their one-year-old daughter Mirabella Bunny.
This is the guy who wrote and sang 18 Til I Die after all.
Adams actually told the ACC crowd of 13,500 the first time he played T.O. he was only 16 years old in 1976 and had to be escorted from the dresser room to the stage by a bouncer.
“Oh, Toronto! - we’ve got a long show for you tonight. ” said Adams, timeless-looking with his hair slicked back and dressed simply in a long sleeved black t-shirt and jeans. “I know some of you got to get up in the morning.”
Playing on a minimalist stage - maybe too much so as it often looked empty? - Adams opened with the unremarkable Neighbours song, House Arrest, before getting the crowd riled up with more familiar hits like Somebody, Kids Wanna Rock, Can’t Stop This Thing We Started, and I’m Ready.
Backed by longtime guitarist Keith Scott, drummer Mickey Curry, keyboardist Gary Breit and bassist Norm Fisher, Adams was also dwarfed by an enormous video screen, with the odd laser light show and playful stage move thrown in - like whenever he slapped his own behind.
“Everyone having a good time?” said Adams, before he and Scott took turns lying on the floor with their dueling guitars during Hearts on Fire.
But it was Adams’ acoustic guitar-fuelled version of Back To You that kicked the two-hour-and-25-minute concert into a higher gear followed by fan favourite Summer Of ‘69, which inspired a major crowd singalong; a truly strange percussion-heavy version of If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?) / Touch The Hand which featured three of the musicians playing on upside down plastic buckets, pots and pans; the mother of all rock ballads, (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, and his classic man-been-done-wrong song, Cuts Like A Knife.
Then Adams dragged up a woman from Ottawa up from the audience to sing a duet on When You’re Gone (originally sung with Sporty Spice/Mel C) and while her hometown got boos, she won over the crowd with a simple: “Go Leafs!”
Other highlights were a mix of rock ballads like Heaven, Straight From the Heart (with Adams alone on stage with his acoustic guitar and harmonica during the encore) and All For Love, the sadly Tina Turnerless It’s Only Love - with Scott providing some crazy guitar moves - and the uptempo Cloud # 9, The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You, and Run To You.
Here I Am
Kids Wanna Rock
Can’t Stop This Thing We Started
Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven
Hearts on Fire
Do I Have to Say the Words?
18 til I Die
Back to You
Summer of ‘69
If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?) / Touch The Hand
(Everything I Do) I Do It for You
Cuts Like a Knife
If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good/When You’re Gone
Please Forgive Me
It’s Only Love
The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You
Run to You
There Will Never Be Another Tonight
Straight from the Heart
Alberta (Toronto) Bound
All for Love