Bryan Adam – Live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2019

Bryan Adam – Live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2019

Just as I thought summer was coming to a close, I headed out to see the man who created Summer (of 69) himself, Bryan Adams on his Shine A Light tour. At his only Auckland show, a frequent flyer to our shores, didn’t quite sell out Spark Arena however, the crowd certainly made it sound like it was a sell out!!!

WORDS BY KIMBERLEY JONES

I took my seat and started to read a message that was playing on the screens behind the stage advertising a competition. Never one to shy away from a chance to win, and sometimes called Lady Luck, off I trot to get myself in the draw to get my brand-new Shine A Light album signed by the amazing Mr Adams after the show.  A short video clip played at 8pm to let everyone know that for every ticket sold, a tree will be planted by DHL and not just from tonight’s gig, from the whole tour!!! I love how artists are doing what they can to help out and getting their hands dirty too. Expecting the main act to start straight away the crowd was hushed after giving ourselves a round of applause. Only to be kept waiting for 15 more minutes.

Adams and his band comprising of keys, bass guitar, electric guitar and drums started the night with a hell of a bang with Ultimate Love.  Being seated at the rear of the arena, gave me the best view of how the crowd was reacting and interacting with the artist.  I got to see some amazing dancing and well so did everyone else once the camera spotted the couple. There were 2 Canadian flags that I could see but they were quickly replaced by hands in the air when Can’t Stop This Thing We Got Started was kicked off. 

Run To You was next on the set list and had the staged covered in deep red lighting and the screen showing a pair of walking legs while Adams paced the stage spending time at each corner at some very smartly placed microphones.  I expected he would be standing still or possibly even sitting for the vast majority of the evening but Adams out on the show of a lifetime for many in attendance including smashing out some amazing guitar riffs. 

Although the Canadian singer/songwriter admitted to only landing in NZ at midnight Monday night, those signature husky vocals were right on point the entire night.   Adams stated that he believed last night was their first ‘real gig’ in NZ as for all previous visits he has played in outside venues.  Taking up the acoustic guitar, Adams then introduced the planned single, Shine A Light, from his new album.  This is the first single he has released in about 5 years but with a career that spans decades and an album count now of 14 there was a lot to get through in one night.  With blue and red lights covering the stage, the crowd was eager to show their participation by producing cell phones for their torch function. 

With a very short instrumental, the crowd started the next song for Adams while he held the mic stand up and over the first few rows.  There must have been some sleeping in the crowd, how I do not know, but the volume slowly increased and Heaven was a joint effort by all at the arena last night. 

“I didn’t know you could sing that good!!!”

Go Down Rockin’ was followed by Adams saying he had a “baptism of fire” with his first ever duet, It’s Only Love, teasing the crowd with a drum roll implying Tina was back stage, however, introducing Keith Scott on electric guitar and backing vocals. Scott surely had some skills and made that guitar squeal like a school girl!

Next up was Please Stay that brought out the bass and the beat slowed down so those on their feet took to their seats.  Now I saw Adams years ago, in the Bare Bones Tour back in 2013, this man just doesn’t seem to age. Surrounded by people that have been brought up with this music, last night was sure one I will remember.   Clouds filled the screen behind stage and Cloud #9 was delivered with perfection before Adams introduced Whiskey In A Jar as a ‘rockabilly’ type song, a 50’s style dance song.  At this point, Adams pointed out all the cameras around the front of the stage and told the crowd to dance any kind of dance they wanted. They had seen swing and some rather silly dances but that was the chance for everyone to just dance how they wanted.  Part way through the song, to an amazing scream from the crowd, Adams and the supporting guitarists turned to face the back of the stage and proceeded to smack their own rear ends! Nice to see everyone was having a great time.

The highlight of my evening was when Summer of ’69 had everyone on their feet and not a soul there wasn’t singing at the top of their voice. With images on the screen of the lyrics hand written all over a woman’s body the Auckland crowd wowed the band and I had to agree with him, damn we can sing!  Introducing Gary Bright on piano/keys, Adams performed an acoustic version of Here I Am which then merged into Adams alone on his acoustic guitar performing When You’re Gone.

Everything I Do (I Do It For You) and the arena was lit with people filming on phones.  The lights dropped back to wow the crowd with some psychedelic blue light show and we were singing along to Back To You next.  There was no pretence and the band didn’t skip a beat with the changes in instruments or by just cutting straight into the next song on the set list.  Adams then counted straight into Somebody and with thousands of faces covering the screen he took to stage right again to sing to those higher in the seats.

“Thanks, everybody!  I want to have a look at everybody, can we turn the lights on?  Ok, lights off I’m getting nervous.”

We were told that unless you knew heaps about the new songs you may not know this next one – I’ll Always Be There.  Adams claims that it is the most romantic things he’s written and that one day in 30 years or so someone will look back and say that was a great song – but that he wasn’t going to be around that long.  Adams went on to say he has known Scott since age 16 and that he is a “brother from another mother.” 

Bold lights in bright colours had us into The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You and Adams controlled the crowd with his guitar bringing us all down to a hush with only clapping to the beat before signalling the drummer, Mickey Curry, to smash out the rest of the song including a small solo. Straight into Cuts Like A Knife and I sat back to enjoy some crowd watching as a child dancing in the row in front of me showing me the meaning of concerts. To live in the moment and enjoy them.   I was sad to see him made to sit down by a family member wanting to film the concert however.  Adams then yelled “Can you hear me out there?” twice then the band gathered round the drum kit to jam the song to a finish.

“I love it when you sing!”

18 Til I Die was another epic track from a massive back catalogue to be called on.  With what looked like fluorescent lights on ropes were up and down from above the stage like a puppeteer the band in jeans & black dress shirts belted this classic just like it was just released.

“Let’s do some requests” Adams said.  Thought I’d Died and Gone To Heaven was the first request taken from the front rows and I thought it was amazing that Scott was able to pick up some supporting chords, however, Adams was alone for the next request of Hearts On Fire. Bryan made the humorous announcement of “Anyone else got any requests… Hang on one at a time.”

Please Forgive Me was the final in the request segment and was made more special for a group of 3 women that were lucky enough to have Adams take a photo of them all as they were wearing shirts with one word of the song title on each of shirt.  When the line “Still feels like our best times are together” Adams shouted “like right now” to the crowd.  With Helena Bonham-Carter gracing the screen at the back of the stage, Adams and the band went into Brand New Day and then we were introduced to Solomon Walker on the bass and Gary Breit on the keys.  With this they all exit stage right.

The 5-song strong encore began with I Could Get Used to This and I Fought the Law. Then Adams threw his arms out and told us to give it up to his boys!  “Don’t be scared, it’s just my harmonica – usually causes an exodus but here is Whiskey in A Jar an Irish Folk song written back in 17th century made famous by the likes of Thin Lizzy and Metallica.  “If you have any Irish heritage song along.”

I could keep going but some of you have to get up in the morning. “Effective this weekend I now have 14 albums.” Adams started out in Vancouver, Canada and admitted that his only dream was to pay rent. His parents saved $1000 for college but didn’t count on their son dropping out at age 15 and at age 17 Adams remembered asking his parents to use that money to put towards purchasing a piano. So, in the summer of 1977, Adams drove his family out of the house with his playing but by the end of the season he said he had a couple of chords he could play and he wrote this next song at age 18.  Entrusting all those out last night, Adams spoke of losing his Dad last summer and thought he would lose his mum as she suffered a stroke around the same time.  She is 91 now and is still standing strong. I have to say, she has one hell of a son to be proud of.  With Straight From The Heart, Adams thinks of family with this song and he states he is just thankful and grateful.

With more crazy applause from the crowd, we are treated to All For Love as the final ballad of the evening as Adams’ response to the cheering was – “I’m not gonna say no to that.”

We dashed for the door as soon as Bryan had finished the last note of his final song All For One because, who would have thought, but Lady Luck had struck again. We were 2 of about 250 people that had been given the chance to meet Bryan Adams back stage after the show and get our new albums signed.  Now getting the chance to meet the musical icon from your childhood is pretty darn cool. Add the fact you got to see him perform for over 2 hours and you think you are hot stuff, right? Throw in the minor detail that Bryan spoke to every single person that he met and signed albums for. Not only the passing “hi how are you,” comment but something meaningful to every person I witnessed before I had my turn.  That took the evening to a whole new level. I can assure you that I sure had one of the best nights of my life and will definitely be keen to welcome the humble and time generous Mr Adams back again. 

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