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Concert Reviews:
Byran Adams Strips It Down In Dearborn
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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DEARBORN -- The iconic image of Bryan Adams is that of a leather-jacketed rock 'n' roller brandishing an electric guitar and fronting a similarly plugged-in band.

It's been a long time since the cover of 1983's "Cuts Like a Knife," however, and on Tuesday night (Dec. 8) at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, the Canadian singer-songwriter proved he could be just as effective without the jacket, without a band and just playing an acoustic guitar.

Songs are Adams' not-so-secret weapon on his current Bare Bones tour. He's put more than 20 of them in the Top 40 and nailed a few of them -- "Heaven," "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You," "Can't Stop This Thing We Started," "All for Love" and "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" -- to the top spot on the Billboard charts. That's certainly a good base from which to build a show, and Adams is enough of a master craftsman that they all work when stripped down to the, well, bare bones, played solely by Adams and, for two-thirds of Tuesday's show, pianist Gary Breit.

It made for a thoroughly engaging two hours, during which Adams -- clad in rock 'n' roll all-black -- rolled through 29 songs from throughout his career. He may not be a storytelling raconteur like Bruce Springsteen or have the same gift of prodigious gab as fellow Canadians Celine Dion and Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, but Adams worked the near-sellout crowd well in the intimate confines of the Michael A. Guido Theater, whether chiding a woman towards the front for texting during his show or talking about reactions he gets in public when people realize he's "Bryan (expletive) Adams!"

He also engaged in a bit of conversation with a man who shouted to Adams that his wife wanted to know if he was married. "No, I'm not," Adams replied with a grin. "Why do you want to know?"

Tuesday's songlist was, not surprisingly, heavy with hits, from the opening chords of "Run to You" to the plaintive closing of "All For Love" and including singalongs during "Summer of '69," "Lonely Nights" and "Straight From the Heart." Adams also acknowledged a fan request for his 1985 single "Christmas Time," began "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" on a Delta blues note and sang a verse of "Please Forgive Me" with a country twang -- appropriate since many of the other songs he played, particularly "Not Romeo Not Juliet," "Back to You," "Walk On By" and the new "You've Been a Friend to Me" from the film "Old Dogs" took on an Americana flavor in the acoustic setting.

"(Everything I Do) I Do It For You," meanwhile, benefited from the more modest presentation, though lines like "Let's make honey, baby/Soft and tender/Let's make sugar baby/Sweet surrender" from "Let's Make a Night to Remember" still need a backbeat to make them sound right. Adams also dug into his canon for lesser-known material such as "Tonight We Have the Stars" from his latest album, 2008's "11," "Back to You" and "Here I Am" from the "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" soundtrack, as well as "The Right Place," which Adams and longtime partner Jim Vallance wrote for Ray Charles and was ultimately recorded by "American Idol" champ Taylor Hicks, and "Never Let Go," which was commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard.

It was certainly Adams as we've never, or at least rarely, seen or heard him, but it worked. And certainly for the vociferous Adams aficionados in Dearborn, it was a little bit of "Heaven."

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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