For years now I’ve wanted to go and see a show at the Royal Albert hall but the bands and performers that I like would be very unlikely to perform at such a venue so I thought I’d either have to go to the last night of the proms or wait patiently for the day that Metallica do another s&m show and chose London to do it in but with both unlikely to happen I just accepted that I probably wouldn’t’. So when out of the blue I got an email from ticketmaster showing that Bryan Adams was doing a show there I jumped at the chance especially as it turns out that the show was to be an acoustic unplugged show. I had bought his unplugged album years ago and loved it so the chance to see the show for myself was not to be missed. I’ve seen him a couple of times before at big outdoor shows at Milton Keynes in the early 90’s and then at the old wembley stadium a few years later but this wasn’t to be just a nostalgia trip I was genuinely excited to see what I thought was a one off show. So the credit card was broken out of storage and I managed to find a pair of tickets on Viagogo which despite being in the circle area and being quite expensive I paid up. When they arrived I realised that despite the face value being only £35 I had paid nearly £80 each for them including fees and delivery both me and the seller both felt like I’d been massively mugged. Not only that but I also read online that these shows include just a few of his hits and are padded out by lots of cover versions so despite still looking forward to it I had a few doubts.
Anyway despite the trepidation Monday arrived and we made our way to London for the gig and we arrived in time to have a nice meal and a few beers before the doors opened On top of the obligatory beer and hot dog on the train going up. An hour or so queuing outside in the rain and being constantly harassed by ticket touts dampened spirits a little bit but once the doors opened we quickly found our seats (via the bar of course) and had a bit of time to take in the atmosphere. I had waited years to be sat here and before the lights went down most of the seats were filled and the standing areas around the top of this magnificent venue were full to capacity and before the main event started we watched the stage crew,which consisted of a cameraman and two dwarfs, pushing a flight case across the stage whilst being filmed doing so. All very odd.
Then all of a sudden the lights went out, a cheer went up and Bryan Adams appeared wearing a top hat. The house lights came back on and after a few moments of doffing his hat to his faithful the lights dimmed and the music started with one of his biggest hits ‘run to you followed by ‘its only love’ and my worries that it was going to be a night of covers was over. Hit after hit arrived interspersed by banter and anecdotes and requests from the audience some of which were granted much to the delight of everyone. I have to admit that as I’m not an avid fan I hadn’t heard some of the songs before so can’t claim to remember the whole set list and even he admitted that that some of the set list was “obscure” from his back catalogue but it didn’t matter if you didn’t know them because every single song was flawless and delivered impeccably by a guy who is the consummate performer and possesses just the most incredible voice. In the rock genre its rare to find a performer that can sing powerfully and with perfect diction meaning that during the songs I didn’t know it was still possible to hear all the words. Ally that amazing voice to a performer that is totally at home by his surroundings and perfectly at ease on stage,each song is absolutely nailed without so much as a bum note on his guitar or voice.
Every great gig I’ve ever been to has has a middle section of songs from the ‘greatest hits’ selection and this was no different. An 8 song run of hits started with his biggest ‘ everything I do ( I do it for you)’ and despite 5500 people watching you could have heard a pin drop during this rendition and the atmosphere was was astonishing enough to result in the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck standing up. I can’t recall many other gig moments when I’ve experienced an atmosphere like this and the crowd went mad at the end of it with many rising to their feet and giving him a standing ovation.Barely back in our seats ‘cuts like a knife’ arrived and I began to feel incredibly privileged to be there, ’18 till I die’ picks the pace back up before a request is made for ‘please forgive me’ gets everyone back in their seats again. If anyone ever wants a lesson in how to write a ballad then give Bryan a call.Then the moment everyone had come for. ‘summer of 69’ got everyone back on their feet and at times it was hard to hear Bryan over the crowd but what a moment that was,genuinely a stand out moment in my gig history.Then as if it couldn’t have got better for me he then played ‘heaven’ which acoustically and unplugged is one of my favourite songs. Song after hit song arrived and I sat back content that that all the songs I’d came to hear I had done and was massively content.
‘The only thing that looks good on me is you’ brought the set to an end and everyone was very satisfied indeed but also begging for more and after just a few minutes off stage back he came.’ I need somebody’ and ‘you’ve been a friend to me’ warmed us up for ‘ have you ever really loved a woman’ which acoustically was stunning and the audience sung every word again. 2 hours plus into this show and it showed no signs of ending, his voice showed no signs of waning and despite the last train time getting nearer no one showed any signs of leaving. But sadly the last song was introduced and in order to create even more atmosphere he asked everyone to “turn their phones on and light the place up” and as he sung ‘All for love’ this most famous of venues twinkled under the lights of thousands of mobiles and a magical moment was made.Then after nearly 2 and a half hours and 29 songs it was over.
Every gig I’ve ever been to has had its faults and this one was no different. The volume was at times very low and despite him having a loud and clear singing voice he is very softly spoken and at times it was difficult to hear him and given the volume of the female voices signing along with him it did at times sound a bit like a karaoke event at a W.I. meeting but this is really just nit picking as on the whole this was a gig that will rank highly on my all time best ever list. There was a cameraman filming the events and I really hope that I get the chance to watch a DVD of this show and would strongly advise you to do the same. On the train on the way home I pulled the ticket out of my pocket whilst searching for my travelcard and looked at the face value of it again. £35 per ticket which worked out at just over a pound a song! Even taking into account that I’d paid well over the odds for it from someone online I couldn’t help but think what amazing value it was and far from me being mugged, by giving his ticket up so cheaply he had actually done me a massive favour.