|Bryan Adams concert a religious experience|
|Saturday, 22 March 2008 11:44|
On the night before Good Friday, a few hundred people were treated to a religious experience at a grand downtown Vancouver church, courtesy of hometown boy Bryan Adams.
You know the last time I played in this area I think it was a nightclub called The Cave,” he told the crowd. “So it's good to be back.” Billed as a private, intimate event, it lived up to the promise, with Adams speaking directly to the audience – partly filled with people he knew – and audience members feeling comfortable talking back. “Hey, remember Black Bart's?” someone yelled out, referring to an old Burnaby club. “I do remember that place,” he replied. “I was trying to forget it.”
Asked at a press conference before the event why he opted for a secret concert as opposed to playing a public, ticketed show, Adams fingered his manager, Vancouver-based Bruce Allen. “You'd have to ask Bruce, who arranged that. I wanted to tell everybody about it. I don't know why it was a secret. I just think they thought it was a good idea.”
Adams begins a world tour next month in South America. There are no Canadian dates. It's been years since Adams has lived in Vancouver (he's a Londoner now), but he is still strongly identified with the city, particularly by Vancouverites – and still has personal connections here, too. “My family still live here and I have a recording studio here, which I like to go and visit once in a while and see if it's still standing,” he told reporters. “I'm amazed every time I come back to Vancouver how much it's changed. I mean, you go away for a month and there's three more skyscrapers. It's great. I think the city's developing beautifully.”
Adams was in Vancouver to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday, on Wednesday. When asked at the news conference whether his mother would be at the concert, he said she'd come to every one of his shows if she could. “She'd be there every day. She'd be selling t-shirts.” And there she was in a pew, 12 rows back from the stage, sitting next to Adams' brother (who also celebrated a birthday on Wednesday). When Adams asked her to “stand up and take a bow,” the crowd broke into an impromptu Happy Birthday to You. After some wild cheering, Adams joked “Let's get back to me now, okay?” He was clearly comfortable in front of the hometown crowd, in fine voice (particularly as the evening progressed) and looking pleased with himself after each well-received number.
Adams recently played 11 shows in 11 days across Europe to promote the new album (his 11th studio recording). He played several tracks from 11 Thursday night, but it was the older songs – such as Cuts Like a Knife, Run to You and Summer of '69 – that got the most enthusiastic response from the sedate, if appreciative, crowd. When he performed Heaven, he gestured up at the church. “I've never played in such a beautiful building,” he said earlier in the evening.
Among the stage banter highlights was a story Adams related that took place at his hotel earlier in the day. While waiting for a key, Adams was approached by another woman, who started chatting with him. She said she was in town to see Bryan Adams, clearly not recognizing who he was. “I said that's really cool,” Adams told the audience, before asking the woman to stand up if she was there. She was. “Glad you could make it,” Adams told her. He also told a story about trying to move from a less-than-desirable apartment in Burnaby to a place for rent in Kits Point. When Adams arrived at the Kits Point apartment, the landlord told him “sorry,” the place had been rented. But then he recognized Adams as a background vocalist from a CBC recording session the previous week (the landlord, it turns out, played the trumpet) and managed to get Adams into the apartment anyway, along with his brother.
That was the place, Adams told the audience, where he learned how to write songs and in fact where he wrote one of his huge, early hits, Straight from the Heart. “Don't ever say that music don't pay,” he said, before launching into the song. Standing there with his guitar and his harmonica, under the huge stained glass church window, Adams seemed less the international superstar and more the grateful recipient of a warm homecoming. It all felt very homey: brother videotaping his former roommate on-stage; mom accepting birthday wishes from friends – and polite strangers; Adams pausing to autograph CDs on-stage after he was done playing. “Hope to see you soon,” he told the crowd after an hour and 10 minutes. “Thank you very much.” And he left the sanctuary.