Bryan Adams live in Kelowna: review

Bryan Adams

Live @ Skyreach Place

Following this sentence is one that I never thought I would write. It is a rare artist that at the height of his popularity still can remain as artistically creative as Bryan Adams. Sure Adam’s records are the sort of commercial rock that send kids into the loving arms of Limp Bizkit and Korn. If rock is dead then someone had better check Bryan Adams for the smoking gun. It’s also a rare artist whose dueting with a Spice Girl can lead artistic credibility to their career.

Aside from all that Bryan Adams has become sort of like the Harlem Globetrotters. You know all the tricks and who’s going to win the game, but you go anyway. Just to say you have. Well now I can say I have. And I can also say I’ve been blown away, by what is the live spectacular that is Bryan Adams.

France’s favorite ex-patriot Canadian took the stage, forgoing the usual opening act. He didn’t need one, the masses had come for Bryan Adams, and Bryan Adams was all that they were going to see. Dressed all in white, with a white stage and white lights, Bryan Adams seemed to be trying to accentuate the tan he must have acquired through his last swing through California. Playing a sampling of his greatest hits such as “18 Till I Die” he quickly won the Kelowna audience over. Little did us in the stands know he was simply slipping us the musical equivalent of a mickey, in order to loosen us up for what was coming up next.

Taking the stage after his first set Adams brought out what appeared to be the type of Casio keyboard that you can buy at London Drugs. “I’ve recently been listening to Radiohead’s Kid A.” Adams announced to the crowd that wouldn’t have known a Kid A from a Kraftwerk Autobahn. “I’ve been really inspired by it, and I’ve been working on some new material since then. I really think what I’ve been doing is beyond anything that has been previously comprehended by mankind. It’s not just music, it’s… well maybe I’d better just show you.”

With that Adams hit a button on the Casio and brought up a pre-programmed drumbeat, the sort that have names like “Casio Beat #5”. Taking his mike he walked from behind the keyboard to the front of the stage and began a dance that can only be described as like watching a man go into a seizure and enjoying it. As he flayed his arms about him he yelped into the microphone a chant like mantra. As far as I can make out he was yelling, “I chew tinfoil. Hegemonic, Air Wolf, live boxes vote digital bunnies.” (That’s of course a rough translation.) After about ten minutes of that, Adams threw himself to the ground and appeared to be trying to dance the worm. Finally he got up and took a small bow and walked off the stage.

Needless to say, the audience was stunned into silence by the sheer artistry of what they had jus seen. I managed to snap myself out of my Adams induced trance and applaud with much gusto. I was in awe of what I thought was a middle of the road; aging rocker whose best work was better left on the store shelf. His willingness to bring new forms of expression to a concert venue was brave. His abandonment of the linear narrative style of post-Floyd concerts was bold and showed a keen intelligence behind the lips of a man who just a half hour ago had left the stage after singing the melodramatic line, “Everything I do, I do it for you.”

Yet if I had thought Adam’s take on Kid A was the highlight of the show I was wrong. When Adams took the stage once again he was accompanied by punk legend Jello Biafra (formerly of the Dead Kennedys) whom Adams explained he’d run into during the WTO protests in Seattle. Adams and Biafra did an amazing jam on the Dead Kennedys song “Christmas in Cambodia” before ripping into punked up versions of Adams’s songs like “Summer of ‘69” and “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman”. Then Adams and Biafra joined for a hilarious, and politically charged, spoken word session. I never thought I’d hear Bryan Adams utter the lines, “so then I kicked the Pig in the shins and took off trying to get rid of the so-called evidence.”

It was an eye opening night for me. It shows that Adams really sees the live venue as an extension beyond the artistic limitations of the studio setting. It was a multi-media performance by one of Canada’s least interesting artists. I was so impressed I didn’t even mind when the RCMP flooded Skyreach with tear gas and began beating the surprised concertgoers with batons.