Bryan Adams set the City stage on fire with a memorable 2-hour performance on opening night at Bluesfest. From start to finish, the energy and enthusiasm he and the rest of the band poured out onstage was felt and reciprocated by the crowd, who were 21,000 strong. He kicked off the night with “Ultimate Love”, one of two new songs included in his recent compilation album, Ultimate (Nov. 2017), and full of the same infectious anthemic rock formula his songs are known for.
There was no shortage of song material the audience wasn’t a part of throughout the course of the night, and Adams’ voice displayed all the same powerful raspy goodness he has retained for well over four decades. “Heaven”, “Back To You”, “Somebody”, “Cuts Like A Knife”, “18 til I Die”, “Summer of 69”, my personal fave, “I’m Ready”, and other timeless rockers were nearly taken over by the crowd, as Adams who absolutely beamed with pride and sincerity, let them take the reins. He shared what was his first recorded duet, “It’s Only Love”, with long-time guitarist and right hand man, Keith Scott, who filled in on some of the Tina Turner harmonies. Both Adams and Scott were constantly embroiled together in their artistic energy which they always bring to their live performance.
Beautiful ballads, “Here I Am”, and “Everything I Do”, were given a stripped-down treatment, where Adams brandished his acoustic and sang under a single spotlight that gave a dramatic touch to his performance. A sea of raised cell phones lit up the grounds during “All For Love”, as Adams captured the luminous display on his own phone. At one point, he even allowed a fan onstage to take a selfie with him. The encore segment included some rockabilly fun with “I Fought The Law”, followed by “Whiskey In The Jar”, which he sang in ode to his recent touring stint in the UK.
Frequently, he reminisced about his days growing up and going to school in Ottawa, the place where he bought his first guitar, and spoke of his recently departed father. At the end of the night, he dedicated one of his early hits, “Straight From The Heart”, to his parents, to whom he thanked for their belief in him and for helping kickstart his career. The heartfelt sentiment was felt by all, who showered Adams with cheers in a moment that felt like we were welcoming our boy home. And in essence, that’s exactly what we did.