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Bryan Adams

Wembley 1996 Live

Review by Gary Hill

It's easy to think of Bryan Adams as a pop artist and dismiss him for that. It's doing him a disservice. It's also depriving yourself of some great music. Sure, Adams did some pop stuff that I think was a bit of a "jump the shark" move. At his heart, at his best, though he has always been a solid rocker. This live CD (I previously reviewed the DVD in an earlier issue of Music Street Journal) showcases that fact. I like this a lot. I'm sure you, like me, will find yourself singing along to a lot of it.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD 1
         
The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You

Adams and his band waste no time. They power in with this hard rocking piece that is so catchy and so cool. This is a great way to start the set in style.

Do To You

I dig the harmonica on this number. It's another cool rocker. This is more of a bluesy thing than the opener was, though.

Kids Wanna Rock

A fast paced stomper, this is fun. The audience helps out on the chorus and this is just so cool.

Can't Stop This Thing We Started
A song that was a hit for Adams, this is delivered in style. It's precisely what you expect from him, hook-laden rock and roll.
This Time
Here's another that was a hit. This is a bit mellower than the previous number. It's no less effective. Again, they deliver this one in fine fashion. There are no surprises, just a solid pop rocker.
18 'Til I Die
I like this one, but not as much as I liked the songs that came before it. The chorus and message are catchy. I just don't think the tune is as compelling.
Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?
This was a balladic hit for Adams. There is a bit of a Spanish guitar vibe to this. While I find this cut in the studio version to be a little precious, the soulful texture works better here in this live performance.         
Touch The Hand
Here we get a hard rocker. This is less of a pop rocker and more pure rock. It's a solid cut. We really needed something rocking after the ballad, and this fills the bill nicely.
Cuts Like A Knife

This is another of Adams' big hits. I've always liked this song a lot. There are no surprises in this live take, just a solid performance of a great tune. They do include an extended section of the audience singing the non-lyrical part.

It's Only Love

Melissa Etheridge joins Adams and the band on this rocker. Her vocals really add a lot to the mix. This is another strong hit, and if anything this life version ups the ante. It really delivers.

Somebody
Another from the hit department, this is a strong rocker. The performance here is on fire. It has another audience participation section. 
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You
This ballad starts with just vocals and then works to vocals and keys for the first section. It gets a bit more powered up as it moves along but remains a power ballad. It has a lot of emotion, but this isn't as big a winner for me as some of the rest.     
CD 2
       
Run To You
The second disc starts with this classic hit. I think this one works well in this live performance, but perhaps not at the same level as the original studio rendition. When it's this good, though, who cares?
There Will Never Be Another Tonight

I dig this pop rocker. It has a lot of classic rock and roll built into it.

Seven Nights To Rock

Speaking of classic rock and roll, there is so much Chuck Berry built into it that it's scary. This is high energy, catchy and so cool.

I Wanna Be Your Underwear

While the lyrics on this are a bit odd, I dig this cut. It has a cool hard rock sound. It's just a lot of fun.

Wild Thing
The old classic tune gets dusted off here. Adams and his band do a solid version of this rocker.
It Ain't A Party (If You Can't Come 'Round)
A solid rocker, this isn't special, but it works.
She's Only Happy When She's Dancin'
While this isn't a big change, the guitar parts on this really screams. The elevates it. Mind you, it was a solid rocker all along.
Summer Of '69
The audience sings along to some of this hit. It's another classic Adams tune delivered in style.
All For Love
This is a ballad. It's performed well, and it's a good cut. It's just not really my kind of thing. This is a long track, but a lot of it is stage banter, mostly introductions of the members of the band.
Let's Make A Night To Remember
Personally, I think this song lands too far on the adult contemporary end of the scale and loses sight of the rock. It's one of the weaker pieces of the show to my ears. It seems like he's channeling Michael Bolton, and I wish he was channeling some rockers.
I Fought The Law
Now, this is more like it. Another old chestnut, Adams and company deliver a killer rendition.
Heaven
The audience sings a big chunk of this at the beginning. Now, this is a ballad that still manages to rock. That makes it work better.
 
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