By Tad Dickens | 777-6474
One of the biggest pop stars of the 1980s may have exposed the secret to what is happening in Nashville, Tenn., these days.
It started as a piece of schtick during Bryan Adams’ set at Jefferson Center on Wednesday night. During the latter part of “Please Forgive Me,” a tune that had stretched his Billboard top 10 resume into 1993, he began singing in a country twang.
“Please believe me/Every word I say is true/Please forgive me, baby/I can’t stop lovin’ you,” the Canadian sang in his best Appalachian drawl, to big laughs.
And there it was, in lyrics, chords and vocal delivery — an assembly line of Music City tunesmiths is writing Bryan Adams songs.
Not that Adams needs to reignite his career in middle Tennessee. Adams, whose “Cuts Like A Knife,” is 30 years old this year, wrote more than enough smashes in his heyday. But he showed that the idea is the same, whether north of the border, on either coast or Printer’s Alley. A popular song is a popular song, regardless of brogue.
And he played most, if not all of them, by the time this reviewer had to leave near the two-hour mark in order to make deadline. From set opening rouser “Run To You” to mid-show shuffle “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” to the anthemic “Summer of ‘69,” his rangy, gravelly voice was strong, his rhythm guitar playing solid, even the rare pentatonic lead was tastefully constructed and well-executed.
And Adams, long removed from the days of filling arenas, was more than comfortable in rapport with an auditorium full of folks.
During “This Time,” women screamed after each of the song’s opening three lines. He waited a few beats, milking the third set of yowls before joking, “Is that the Roanoke mating call?”
He had his crew turn bright spotlights on the audience, then picked a woman to stand and dance to his randy “If Ya Wanna Be Bad (Ya Gotta Be Good).” Afterward, he asked if the man beside her was her husband. It was her brother, she replied, to which he put on a mug that was equal parts Groucho Marx and Johnny Carson, drawing yet another of the many laughs his crowd gave up.
But it wasn’t all party-sparkers and humorous come-ons. He and pianist Gary Breit laid out the ballads that drew swoons back in the day, getting the first of at least four standing ovations for “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” and another for “Heaven.”
If he got at least two standing “O’s” during the encore, it still wouldn’t have topped the nine he got when he played the same hall in 2009. But this crowd was sort of used to Adams by now.
Early on, he said he remembered playing here in 2009 and asked if the people in the room were here that night, too. Many roared back in the positive.
They’ll likely be back next time, too.