|Bryan Adams rocked Kathmandu|
|Wednesday, 23 February 2011 07:01|
It was Kathmandu’s Summer of ’69. By Saturday afternoon, all the arteries leading to Dashrath Rangashala Stadium were choked.
And still, boys and girls were streaming in by the thousands — bare-bodied, hair braided, arms tattooed — for their date with Bryan Adams. The older gang was nostalgic, while the teenagers were euphoric that they would finally get to see the “legend”. No one wanted to miss the country’s first major international gig.
“I turned 18 the year he released 18 Till I Die! Oh my god, I can’t wait to see him,” said 32-year-old Asami Nakabai. Ruja Acharya, 30, screamed, “I love him! I’ve been listening to him since I was a teenager. I never thought I’d hear him live — and that too in Nepal!” For 19-year-old Saibal Gurung, it was a dream come true. “I love Summer of ’69. We play that in college!” he shrieked.
The evening — Bryan Adams Live in Nepal, presented by McDowell’s No.1 Platinum and managed by JPR Events to “boost tourism in Nepal” — rolled out with three opening acts by popular Nepali rock bands 1974 AD, Mongolian Heart and Namaste, who stepped up the tempo and got the crowd swinging. But it didn’t help that the anchor hopped onto the stage after every act, screaming out for “Bryan!” as 1,500 security personnel and 200 local volunteers struggled to keep the swelling crowd at bay.
Behind the scenes
It’s been one of the most talked-about concerts on the Asian music circuit for months, but the man at the centre of the madness seemed startled as he stepped out of the dressing room — and straight into a swarm of wide-eyed fans milling around backstage. But Bryan devotees from five to 50 didn’t have to try too hard for a moment with him, as he gladly made his way into the crowd, posing for some quick pics and even screaming out, “One more!”
At 51, he can still work magic — as the jeans-clad, tender-hearted rocker, his golden hair neatly gelled back into one big spike, reminiscent of past album covers (he’s already sold 65 million of them). A three-time Oscar nominee with a career spanning three decades, Bryan has been on the road ever since he released Bare Bones, a collection of old songs stripped down to their raw, acoustic form, last November.
“Oh, it’s just been so amazing so far,” he told t2, seconds before taking the stage. And the best part of his journey till now? “A rickshaw ride in Dhaka! I put it on Twitter, you saw that?” he asked, flashing that boyish grin. Bryan landed in Nepal straight after rocking the opening ceremony of the World Cup.
Music and the men
Bryan Adams had the crowd wrapped around his nimble fingers at Dashrath Rangashala Stadium in Kathmandu on Saturday
The start was random, as the Canadian singer-songwriter crooned some unfamiliar lines that went, “I think I’m going to Kathmandu/I think it’s really where I’m going to/K-k-k-k-k-k Kathmandu”. It left even his backstage crew baffled! No, it wasn’t something he was making up, but a vintage song by American singer-songwriter Bob Seger.
Then, like a bolt of lightning, the first few notes of his greatest classics reverberated across the stadium as he ran along the 2,600sq ft stage, taking the crowd on a wild, wild ride. Here I Am, Can’t Stop This Thing We Started, Run To You, It’s Only Love — that familiar rasping voice rang out, the guitar strumming those signature tunes. In keeping with his Bare Bones form, songs such as Straight From The Heart, Everything I Do and Way You Make Me Feel were rendered solo, with Bryan playing the guitar and harmonica.
An hour into the performance it was time to “Give it up for my boys now!” as Bryan got the spotlight trained on his five-piece band with Norman Fisher plucking those familiar bass tabs for Cuts Like A Knife and Summer of ’69, Micky Curry on drums and keyboardist Gary Breit pounding away. And finally, it was time to introduce lead guitarist Keith Scott, who got some good mike time on main vocals too. “I’d like to introduce you to my best friend Keith Scott. And apart from being my best friend, he’s also (got) the fastest fingers on the guitar you’ve ever seen!” Bryan declared before urging the Fender bender to show off his six-string wizardry.
Oww...Ow Ow Owww!
But it was the man himself who had the audience wrapped around his nimble fingers. Watching Bryan Adams live, you realise that it isn’t enough to have just listened to his records. The music is there, humming all around you, but it’s the other skills he carries out to the stage — his spontaneous passion and humour — that make him such an incredible entertainer. Sample this: mid-concert he paused to point at the full moon and exclaimed, “In Canada when we see a moon like this we go… Oww…Ow Ow Owww!” as 25,000 heads tilted up to echo his howl.
Cut to another pause, and he announced, “This is that part of the show where you can go really wrong or really right!” In the mood to experiment, he invited on stage a member from the audience for a flirtatious encounter while singing Baby, When You’re Gone. “I know it’s a big risk but don’t say yes if you don’t know it, because I’m going to drag your ass up right here!” he warned before hauling up Brinda, a young banker, who turned out to be the envy of every eye as she sang and danced with and got hugged by rock music’s most eligible bachelor.
Also known as an outstanding photographer, Bryan took his camera out to pan the stadium and capture the thousands that had braved the 7°C chill to see him live. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to make a movie on you. If I were to describe tonight, I wouldn’t be able to. I want to show the world what Kathmandu is like!” he chanted, as thousands of hands went up in the air, holding out cellphones that shone like candles in the dark.
Just when you thought the lights would come on and the boys would run out, they launched into encores. “Looks like you’re getting late for home?” asked Bryan with a smile. The crowd couldn’t get enough and nor could Bryan. He took three bow-outs and six encores — swinging from the anthemic Cloud Number Nine to tender ballads like Heaven before bringing the two-hour show to a close.
Let’s hear it from “best friend and fastest fingers” Keith Scott. “I am really astonished that people listen to our music around the world. Every time we come to a different place, it’s just incredible that they seem to know our music,” Keith told t2 the morning after the sellout performance. “Because of the title of the song, we decided at the last minute to do Bob Seger’s Kathmandu. Do you think Kathmandu liked it?” Well, going by the booming chorus in the stadium, there was little to doubt that. It took them 10 minutes before going up on stage to look up the lyrics and practise briefly in the dressing room!
“Every night it’s a different set of people and they all seem very excited. We just enjoy the process of being on stage, feeling the energy and watching everybody enjoy themselves. That’s why we do it,” he said, with a footnote. “And yes we need to rehearse, because sometimes we don’t play as good as we should. We’re very critical of each other but if we do make a mistake, it’s actually quite fun!”
Known for his amazing guitar riffs and for playing on almost all of Bryan’s studio albums, Keith has also worked with Cher, Tina Turner and Tom Cochrane. On wearing the tag of being Bryan’s best friend, he smiles. “I’ve worked with him and we’ve known each other for 30 years. He’s a lot like family, you know. I consider him like a brother. He’s been very good to me, given me lots of opportunities and been very supportive. I hope I’ve been the same or a little of that to him. We have a wonderful time together and a great sense of humour, which gets us through a lot.”
Before heading home to California as Bryan jets off to London for yet another gig, Keith let t2 in on a secret. “Before every show, Bryan and we have something called the ‘monkey hour’. It’s just five minutes of us being really silly and that gets us ready for the show!”
Credit(s): Mohua Das (telegraphindia.com)