Car parking in Belfast was a task-and-a-half last night (Wednesday) - especially for the 11,000 making the hike to the SSE Arena for an evening with one of Canada’s finest.
Bryan Adams dropped by for a one-night reunion with what’s now rather renowned as one of the best crowds in the world.
While several hundred fans arrived a little late due to the parking chaos, once in the room they were ready to give the Canadian rock singer their undivided attention.
There was no support act because Bryan Adams doesn’t need one, apparently - and, a little into his 2 hours 45 minute-long set, it quickly became clear that he simply didn’t have time for it. Never the time-waster, Bryan and his suavely-suited ensemble got straight into the hits with ‘Can’t Stop This Thing We Started’ and ‘Run to You’.
Interspersing his most well-loved ballads with tasters from his latest album (and the title of his current tour) ‘Get Up’, Bryan mixed the tone up and down like an indecisive disc jockey as he slid into ‘Heaven’ - the first chords of which had the crowds switching quickly into slow motion Mexican wavers.
Seeing the SSE filled to capacity was something else, and a total testament to the timelessness of Adams’ music.
The audience ranged from small children to fans who may well have snapped up his first record in 1980, and Bryan was quick to commend their loyalty. Winding up ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ - made famous in the Hollywood movie, ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ - Bryan paused to share:
“As I was singing that last song, I remembered the first time I sang it here in Belfast in 1991. I remember - and you’ve lived up to it again tonight - that it was the loudest I’ve ever heard it sung.”
Perhaps one reason for their relentless volume was a need to compete with the instruments onstage.
A Bryan Adams concert is never just about Bryan Adams, and his enduring associate, Keith Scott, was there in full form last night on lead guitar. Keith’s musical relationship with Bryan dates back to 1976 and their onstage chemistry is breathtaking.
In a rendition of ‘It’s Only Love’, the two enjoyed a ‘guitar-off’ topped with harmonies and an element of competition that melted the crowds into putty in the performers’ guitar-wielding hands.
Shouting to the crowds, mid-song - “I love it when you sing!” - Bryan certainly hasn’t lost his ability to charm an audience, and every one of them was eager to sing all the louder for it.
After a brief disappearance from the stage, Bryan galloped back into sight for an encore - choosing a rendition of Elvis’ ‘All Shook Up’ to ensure his fans were still moving and shaking - and a solo performance of ‘She Knows Me’.
Giving the boys a cheery farewell, Bryan remained onstage by himself to offer a few more tunes before closing up shop - and he was right: his Northern Irish fans can certainly sing with gusto. Rounding off with an anecdote about teaching his daughters the piano, the 56 year old declared: “Music to me is magic - and what we did tonight was magic. Thank you.”
Bryan Adams may have been around a while, pushing 40 years in the business, but last night he still managed to hold a sold-out arena full of folk by the heartstrings - and the vocal cords.