Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams Acoustic Tour

Orlando, Florida • May 14, 2008

Although Bryan Adams’ 2008 tour will take him and his band to stadiums, arenas and amphitheaters around the world, his May 14 concert at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Orlando, Florida was (to the surprise of some fans) an acoustic solo set.

By 6pm, faithful and sweaty early birds were already lined up around the entire un-shaded venue, roasting in the sweltering pre-summer Florida heat. Some fans standing in line were even carrying Adams memorabilia, like jackets from his ’80s hit LPs. By 7pm the doors were finally opened to offer the legions a cooler haven while waiting another two hours for show time.

Dressed in a black, long sleeve dress shirt and dark blue Levis with a cool, gelled, short-cropped haircut, the human ’80s hit machine took the stage promptly at 9pm.

Unfortunately, having B.B. King’s name illuminating the outside, and “House of Blues” style artwork plastered throughout the inside, does NOT necessarily make for a great concert venue. Granted, this is possibly an okay place to see a show with only 300 folks in attendance and I’m sure the burgers are great, however, the 1,000+ fans that were jammed into the joint for this particular show made even breathing (at times) a real challenge. Imagine a Cracker Barrel style restaurant with a stage in the middle. Then imagine another, smaller Cracker Barrel style restaurant as a balcony stacked on top of it, and you can grasp the layout of this facility. You even have to walk through a cheesy gift shop to get to the seating area. Simply put, the place was too full and most paying fans couldn?t see a thing. Many folks upstairs actually had to settle for watching the show on a blurry TV monitor. In fact, it was hard to distinguish whether people were dancing or staggering as they tried to balance themselves on the tables and bar stools, struggling to catch a glimpse of the Canadian pop star.

Promoting the release of his new album, 11, some material, like his current single “I Thought I’d Seen Everything” was apparently so new that Adams actually played from “cheat sheets” placed to his right on what looked like a lit music stand. This did not go unnoticed and prompted one plump female fan standing near me to comment, “I can’t believe he doesn’t know the words to his own songs.”

The show was also plagued with sound issues. At one point Adams actually felt compelled to offer the soundman pointers from the stage on how his harmonica should sound. At times the sound was so inaudible that audience members were actually shh-shh-ing each other to hear his in-between-song banter.

The set didn’t consist entirely of new material, however. Adams also treated the crowd to chartbusting hits from ’80s classics such as “Cuts Like a Knife” and “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” to ’90s favorites like “When You Love Someone” and “A Night to Remember.” But Adams is known for his big arena-rock sound. Even his ballads are arena ballads. Too often, his stripped down, Neil Young-ish acoustic guitar/harmonica/vocal versions of (originally) high-energy hits fell flat by comparison. Actually, I’d love to hear Adams’ new music as well as his treasure trove of (amplified) hits somewhere else on the tour this summer. But next time I want to see him with his full band, on a big stage, in a big venue where he truly belongs.

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