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Concert Reviews:
Byran Adams, Billy Idol turn DTE into a flesh and blood MTV party
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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NDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Since 1984, Bryan Adams has been singing about how the "Kids Wanna Rock."



Make that kids of all, and especially adult, ages, and that was exactly the case as Adams and Billy Idol combined to rock the DTE Energy Music Theatre on Wednesday night, Aug. 7.



It was vintage 80s MTV exploding in flesh and blood on the amphitheater stage as each of the veteran but ageless artists roared through 75-minute sets loaded hits -- and, given that time limitation, still had to leave a significant number of favorites on the bench. That's truly a First World rock 'n' roll problem, though, and it was far easier for the crowd of 10,000-plus to enjoy what was played rather than what wasn't, whether you wanted to celebrate the "Summer of '69," unleash a "Rebel Yell" or spend some time dancing with yourselves -- and others at DTE.



Adams and Idol -- who came together for a fierce rendition of Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody" during the former's set -- presented contrasting but complementary figures as well. The 63-year-old Idol, for instance, changed shirts, jackets and vests several times, while Adams, 59, stayed in the same all-black outfit all night. Adams' stage set was sleek and spare, without an amplifier in sight; Idol's five-piece band, including iconic lead guitarist Steve Stevens, played in front of walls of amplifiers, risers and stage-mounted lights.



But it was a combination that worked well, and fans never had to wait too long before either group played something they could sing along to.







In Adams' case that happened quite often, and the rocker from Kingston, Ont., was more than happy to let the crowd take over on hits such as "Heaven," "Summer of '69" and an acoustic version of "Straight From the Heart." He and his four-piece band, meanwhile, played with the same playful energy and exuberance -- and good humor -- he's shown since the mid-80s, acting like a bar band that just happened to have an elaborate light show and video presentation, as well as a passel of Top 10 hits.



Even Adams' ballads were delivered with a kind of confident strength that made them something more than just mellow, but he was more about rocking on Wednesday. The group tore into its 16-song set with "Somebody," "Kids Wanna Rock," a bouncy "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" and a searing "Run to You" -- and even kept the crowd engaged with the buoyant "Shine a Light," the Ed Sheeran co-written title track from his new album. By the time Adams wound down with an acoustic "All For Love," his collaboration with Sting and Rod Stewart from "The Three Musketeers" film, there was indeed only love between him and the DTE faithful.



Idol's 12-song set, meanwhile, was a little more brawny and, occasionally, bloated as he made room for Stevens, his right-hand man since the beginning of his solo career, to take command of the show -- including one extended solo segment during which the guitarist toyed with Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and "Over the Hills and Far Away" as well as some of Steven's "Top Gun Anthem" at the end of "Blue Highway." That of course, gave Idol -- peroxide hair and facial snarl still intact -- time to catch his breath and keep the likes of "Flesh For Fantasy," "Eyes Without a Face" "Rebel Yell," "White Wedding" and the Doors' "L.A. Woman" at high potency, and he scored some points for including romps through Generation X's "Your Generation" and "Ready Steady Go" in the set.



And while Adams had the swooning love songs, Idol won the prize for the night's most sentimental moment with "Ghosts in My Guitar." The British-born singer used the track from his last album, 2014's "Kings & Queens of the Underground," to pay tribute to his late father, who Idol said died five years ago on Wednesday from cancer -- and passed away listening to the song, which Idol and company performed as photos of his father scrolled on the video screen. Now that moment was truly, as Adams would sing, straight from the heart.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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