Bryan Adams: Still Going Strong Forty Years After The Summer Of '69

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Okay, so he wasn't famous in the summer of 1969. He hadn't even reached his tenth birthday yet, making his iconic hit by that name conspicuously fictional. But as Bryan Adams revealed to his audience Sunday, April 5 at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, it's the most misinterpreted song in his formidable repertoire. He explained, it's not specifically about 1969, it's about 'hanging out with your friends, nostalgia ... and a certain sexual position', much to the delight of the full house that turned out to revel in a set that churned out a non-stop barrage of hits, sprinkled ever so lightly with new and cover material. Bryan Adams has not only endured but prospered much longer than so many others, largely the result of his knack for writing extremely accessible pop, despite much of it being somewhat homogenous ballads that re-tell love stories. He's also worked with a who's who list of top-flight musicians and acts, including Tina Turner, Roger Waters, Barbra Streisand, Bonnie Raitt, Sting, and Rod Stewart. What you've missed if you haven't seen him perform, though - even if you've caught all those ballads and collaborations - is that Adams also has a palpable knack for entertaining an audience. To put it mildly, he has a razor-sharp sense of humor and wit, tinged with just enough mischief to be edgy, yet also sufficient restraint to keep the punch lines implicit. If his studio work seems too squeaky clean for your taste, his live performance just might change your mind. It's also a revelation, even to those who know his work pretty well, of just how many bona fide hits Adams' career has spawned. The evening's all-acoustic set (Adams multi-tasking between vocals, acoustic guitar, and harmonica, accompanied by pianist Gary Bright) came right out of the gate with 1984 smash "Run To You", and charged through a flurry that included "Cuts Like A Knife" and "Back To You", plus a multitude of slow numbers: "Everything I Do, I Do For You", "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman", "Please Forgive Me", "All For Love", "Heaven". He touched upon a sampling of tunes from his eleventh album (titled - you guessed it - "11") without being overindulgent, showing that his hit making prowess hasn't dwindled, with "Tonight We Have The Stars", and "I Thought I'd Seen Everything". But it just might be that the most memorable moments came when Adams covered the heartrending Ray Charles/Willie Nelson duet "Seven Spanish Angels", as well as a song titled "The Right Place", which he wrote pre-stardom with Charles - his idol, as he pointed out on stage - in mind. The latter didn't see the light of day until American Idol Season Five winner Taylor Hicks recorded it for his first full-length album. The beauty of a stripped-down show such as this is that there's no place for vocal flaws to hide, and this plays to Adams' strengths as a nearly flawless singer. That might be easy to pull off behind the insulation and aegis of the recording studio, but on stage is a different story, and Adams actually sounded better live. As for the Warner Theatre, this space has included rhapsodies about the facility for its setting as playhouse, but it served equally well as a concert hall and enhanced the overall experience. Judging by the crowd that came to see Bryan Adams at the Warner, it's obvious his music has enhanced the overall experience of countless lives, even if he wasn't old enough to do all those things by the summer of '69!

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