Bryan Adams Strikes a Chord With His Indian Fans During his Ultimate Tourby Opinion Express October 16, 2018 0 comments
Canadian singer Bryan Adams, who was in India recently as a part of his Ultimate Tour, put his Indian fans in a nostalgic mood.
Those were the best days of my life, crooned Bryan Adams about the Summer of ‘69. I can say the same about the winter of ‘96. Nineteen years back I was a rookie reporter for this newspaper and I started a piece for these pages (which have transformed drastically, I may add) with these epic lines. During the interregnum, I have switched jobs, saw the world as well as India transform, lost a parent, ended a relationship which lasted almost half of my lifetime. But the tumultuous times failed to change my playlist where Adams featured most prominently. So on a personal level, it was befitting that when I am back in the newspaper, the Canadian singer decided to tour the country again for the fifth time and I saw him for the first. And yes, he made sure that it was a Night to Remember.
As we winded our way inside the Leisure Valley in Gurugram, we got a sense of how big the turnout was going to be. The access roads were shut to vehicular traffic and people trudged along to what seemed like the biggest walkathon in town — but with people dressed for an evening out rather than running around in track pants and hoodies.
Unlike say an Ed Sheeran or an EDM concert, it was the generation X that dominated the audience largely. Demographically if one was to make bar charts for the 15,000 plus audience at the concert, it was the 35+ category’s bar that would see the greatest spike. People who had attended Adams’ first concert in 1994 with their girlfriends or boyfriends turned up with their spouses and sometimes children who had abandoned Justin Bieber for the more lyrical and gravely-voiced singer — at least for a day.
The opening act was performed by Harshdeep Kaur but despite popular numbers like Ek Kabira and Channa Mereya, the crowd was itching for the star performer to come on stage. Even after Harshdeep went off, it took some time for the stage to be prepped up for the main act. Gradually as the screen behind the stage flickered to life with a giant-sized head of Adams which made faces, behaved like a punching bag, came alive and became stoic at different points, the audience began to grow restless.
When Adams burst on the stage, he didn’t disappoint. The high-energy and interactive performance saw the audience break out in a frenzy and sing along with the numbers, especially the more popular ones. The multi-million selling recording artist ripped through two-dozen-plus hits covering nearly 40 years.
Adams dressed in a blue T-shirt and jeans, on a well-lit stage which had an oversized video wall where lyrics, black and white as well as colour videos played, was accompanied by a guitar player, a bassist, a drummer and a piano player. The 26-song set was heavy on Adams’ established hits, especially the ones that are an ode to love.
He kicked it off with Ultimate Love, from his newest album. But it was when he played Can’t Stop This Thing We Started, from his 1991 album, Waking Up the Neighbours that made the audience erupt in joy. The crowd was all revved up with Run To You that followed after.
But there was more in the coming. Adams established an instant connect when he said, “Hello, I am Bryan Adams,” as if he was any common person introducing himself for the first time as the crowd laughed uproariously. It set the tone and tenor of the show as he went on to tell the appreciative capital’s crowd that he looked forward to performing in the city. “Good evening Delhi. We have been coming here since 1994. It is great to be back again and thank you for having us. It’s taken long and I’ve always asked where is my Delhi show,” Adams said as the crowd broke out into applause. And when he said “I have all kinds of songs for you tonight, old ones, a few new ones, I’m not sure how much time you have but we have a long show ahead! Tonight we have the biggest party in India,” the people answered, “Forever”.
The two-way synchronicity was visible throughout. At times the singer asked the crowd to sing along and they were more than happy to oblige. Whether it was Na na na nana nana during Cuts Like a Knife or to proclaim 18 Till I Die, the audience was at its enthusiastic best. And when the raspy voice launched into the evergreen ballad Heaven, one was almost transported to the promised destination. The vibe was groovy and the couples (and singles) were mesmerised. The whole crowd sang the first verse in unison, accompanied by only a piano.
Here I Am did stir up the crowd, yet again but then it was the anthemic Summer Of ’69 which was sung by every man and woman in attendance. The audience asked for an encore and Adams obliged with a single line from the song sung softly and much mellower. Adams followed it up with Please Stay and the audience wanted him to live up to his promise.
When Adams announced that the song which was coming up was a duet with Tina Turner, the audience knew the beat to follow and announced It’s Only Love. And it was during this number that his long-time guitarist and friend Keith Douglas Scott, sauntered over from their corners and met at centre stage to bounce their riffs off one another. The guitarist practically set the stage on fire in between numbers and during them with his maneuvering of the strings.
Compulsory on the playlist was Everything I Do I Do it For You, the popular number from the film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the number with which Adams burst into the popular imagination of the generation X in 1991. And did people sing along? Adams followed it up with Back To You and Somebody which provided more evidence of the polished performers’ ability to craft hits with huge choruses.
When Keith, who had accompanied Adams on his first ever India tour, played a tune that was distinctly Indian, the singer promised to “put the best dancers on stage on the screen” — which he did. Women climbed on their boyfriends shoulders just to “share the stage” for a moment with Adams.
The way Keith plucked at the guitar and created magic, one knew even without being told, that the singer was drifting towards the sensuous and sultry flamenco number Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman during which the original recorded video played in the background to heat things up a bit. And when The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You followed things just got louder.
The way the 58-year-old bound about on the stage with seemingly endless energy, the audience believed him when he belted out 18 ‘Till I Die.
Adams had a story to recount about Straight From The Heart. “It is a song I wrote when I was 18. The story is when I was 17, I asked my mother whether we could buy a piano with the $1,000 we had set aside for my schooling? She knew I was not going back to school and said yes we can do that. So in the summer of 1977, I practised and drove my entire family out of the house with my terrible piano playing…But the point of my story is not about the song but about my parents. They had given the chance to me to be a free musician that I am. Otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here today,” he said. It was especially poignant given the fact that it has been a tough year for him. Adams took out time to tell the crowd of his father’s passing away and his mother’s stroke this year which had left her paralysed. And spoke about how he was pronounced “Indian” by a fellow flyer who was accompanying his old father. “This is the Indian way, he told me. And when I said that during the last years of his life, I took care of my father. He said, ‘Maybe you are a little bit of Indian too.’”
As he spoke, the strobe of light which was focussed on his head was abuzz with insects. The vegan admitted that he had swallowed one.
He ended the show with another film ballad, All for Love from Three Musketeers which he had sung with Rod Stewart and Sting. As the audience walked out, most of them in a daze, they subconsciously knew that it was the best day of their life.
Writer: Saimi Sattar
Courtesy: The Pioneer