Canadian rocker Bryan Adams returns to Belfast once again to sprinkle his very own brand of magic to his loyal and adoring Northern Irish fan base. One thing you can guarantee from a Bryan Adams show is a packed-out house, great music and one of the biggest party atmospheres you’ll see in a very long time. Two years off the road for the band and two years in the wilderness for the fans will ensure an appetite for live music unseen before, if the last two nights in Belfast at The SSE with Queen & Adam Lambert have shown us anything, Belfast is in fine form.
Bryan recently dropped his 15th studio album so we will be showered with tracks from his new album “So Happy It hurts” out now via BMG as well as a lifetime’s fan favourites that everyone is dying to hear once again in the flesh. I myself was introduced to Bryan with his ‘Reckless’ album way back in the summer of 88’ when I was in my teens, I lived In Belfast and over the summer I would visit my brothers who both lived in Dublin and my older bro was doing van deliveries and I would tag along as he did and ‘Reckless’ was one of the soundtracks of my summer.
It still amazes me how you can pinpoint a moment in time with a song or an album, but that album takes me right back to those summer days in Dublin and tonight I’ll be brought right back again when I hear them loud and proud! I can’t actually remember how many times now I have seen Bryan at this stage, he’s just astounding live, so the bar has previously been set high and anyone walking through these doors tonight will know what to expect, for those who are here for the very first time, you’re welcome.
Bryan has just completed a run of UK dates with Belfast tonight and Dublin tomorrow night to close off the current run of UK & Irish dates, so the craic will be 90 as we say, the beer will be flowing and we’ll all be in fine voice to support Bryan and The Dukes Of Leisure when required. Let’s do this! Now tonight I am here both as a long time admirer of the man himself and as a photographer & reviewer, so this is my first time tackling the entity that is Bryan Adams the performer, normally we get 3 songs in the pit to work our magic. Not tonight, Mr Adam’s allows one song, 3 minutes-ish? So I am assuming as he is a photographer himself he’s laying down the gauntlet, a challenge of sorts to see what we’re made of. Well, I got you Mr Adam’s I got you!
The crowds stream into the venue and at 8:15 the lights drop to a brief video introduction prepping the audience for Bryan’s imminent arrival, the crowd goes wild! The guys are all wearing matching black t-shirts and with a large video s seen behind them and led lights above give the whole setup a contemporary feel, check you Mr Adam’s embracing the technology! There’s a beauty to the simplicity of the setup, all the same, the focus here is on the music and it stands out. Four plus decades of making his mark on the industry and 75 + Million album sales means the evening is jam-packed with classics. Bryan’s new songs sit perfectly alongside his back catalogue and keep the party going as Belfast gobbled up track after track. The crowd interaction is at the max as Bryan keeps it personable and gets the crowd pumped inviting the revellers to dance along with his rockabilly track ‘You Below To Me’ which the lunatics of Belfast fully embrace, sure I did say the craic would be 90!
One of the highlights of Bryan’s show is when he tackles a number stripped back, either on his own or with the piano for accompaniment and tonight we got treated to ‘Here I Am’ and ‘When Your Gone’ this is when Belfast steps up and provides backing vocals life with their life depends on it! The loudest cheers of the night always go to the mega-hits, The Summer Of 69 and Everything I do etc but when your back catalogue is as rich in musical terms as Bryan’s you need a six-hour slot to fulfil the needs of your hungry fans. So Bryan turns it over to the audience to choose their fav tunes and we get a barrage of belters from the archives.
The Northern Irish accent poses its own challenges as Bryan tries his best to wrap his head around the names of the individuals tossing out song names but sure who doesn’t love a Belfast head melter. Welcome back to Belfast Bryan.
The guys leave the stage and once again Belfast gets some solo time with the man himself as he treats us to an Irish classic and one to win over the Belfast crowd with Whiskey In The Jar made famous by Thin Lizzy. If you thought Belfast could deliver a decent vocal this was on another level, and as Mr Adams is the ultimate charmer Belfast appreciated every second. The evening was wrapped with an acoustic version of “All For Love’ and as the Belfast crowd dispersed into the night the smiles were seen far and wide. Right across the auditorium arms were in the air, ladies and gents dancing, everything you want and expect for a great night out, Dublin tomorrow wraps up the current UK & Ireland run of dates before he arrives band at the end of June and July for a few bespoke appearances, so keep your fingers on the pulse kids.
Till the next time Bryan, till the next time.
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Photography: Mark McGrogan #flashartmark @flashartmark