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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisThe idea of Canadian pop/rock mainstay Bryan Adams stripping down his sounds on stage is nothing new. After all, he turned in one of the most famous "MTV Unplugged" episodes of all time and recently released the CD sequel of sorts Bare Bones,, which chronicles past hits and more current material in acoustic settings.
Given the nature of this particular performance, the Chicago Theatre was the perfect setting and the nearly sold out audience sat enraptured since Adams was up a tour de force over two dozen tunes and plenty of banter. As opposed to the arena settings he's used to (with recent American tours accompanying Def Leppard and Rod Stewart), fans were treated to the personal side of the popular but sometimes underrated troubadour.
Sure, Adams took care of monster smashes like "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" and "Summer of '69," but they came within the first half, suggesting he puts greater stock in more overlooked album material. Cuts like the pleading "Here I Am" and the gorgeous ballad "Do I Have To Say the Words?" might not have earned the same level of exposure, but they were actually better examples of his skills as a songwriter.
Another key quality in the success of the performance was Adams' decision to not take himself too seriously, poking fun at the fact he often gets questioned in customs as to the reason he's entering a country (which is often followed by an airline attendant saying they once saw him open up for Journey). He also stopped "Please Forgive Me" midway through to ponder what it would've sounded like as a country song, accompanied by his best Willie Nelson drawl. (He may even want to consider pitching "The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You" to Shania Twain).
Even though ballads like "Let's Make a Night To Remember" and "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?" oozed with their fair share of schmaltz, they nonetheless served as guilty pleasure sing-a-longs. Yet it was the standing room only encore that started with "Somebody" and ended with "Straight From the Heart" that demonstrated Adams is just as confident as a rock n' roller as he is a balladeer who has no trouble crafting equally catchy tracks in either arena.
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