WILKES-BARRE —- Few performers in the history of popular music have been more successful than Bryan Adams. The biggest reasons for that success – his songs – were on full display Tuesday night at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in all their stripped-down glory.
Adams, in the midst of his “Bare Bones” tour accompanied solely by his own acoustic guitar (with occasional flourishes of harmonica) and pianist Gary Breit, riveted a crowd of a little less than 1,500 for almost two hours, performing 24 of his compositions which have aged better than you may have expected.
After opening with “Run To You,” which had the audience members filling in the missing drum beats from the 1984 hit version, “It’s Only Love” (1985) and “I Thought I’d Seen Everything” (2008), Adams explained the logic behind the tour.
“We’re going to do the songs as simply as possible, breaking them down to how they were written on acoustic guitar,” he said, while noting the show is a little more professional than the last time it played Wilkes-Barre (December 2009). “We’ve gotten better, we have some new songs and, as you can see, we have a backdrop now.”
While introducing “When You Love Someone,” a song he wrote with Gretchen Peters and Michael Kamen for his 1997 album “MTV Unplugged,” he said the song has taken on a second life a few times since.
“First it was used in a Sandra Bullock movie, and just this year it was recorded by Kenny Rogers,” he said. “And he does it better than I did; I can say that because I wrote it.”
He then said he sent an email to Rogers to tell him that he really likes his version and The Gambler sent him a message back. “Makes me think maybe I should have sent an email to Sandra Bullock.”
For a time in the 1990s, Adams was the go-to guy for hit singles tied to movies, and most of them were featured Tuesday, including 1991’s “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” from “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” 1993’s “All For Love,” which he recorded with Rod Stewart and Sting for “The Three Musketeers” and 1995’s “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” from “Don Juan DeMarco.”
Adams also sang “I Finally Found Someone,” his duet with Barbra Streisand from 1996’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” which he said was just added to the set recently, and his later movie songs, “Here I Am” from 2002’s “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” and “You’ve Been a Friend to Me” from 2009’s “Old Dogs.”
Besides the movie tie-ins, he also did most of his biggest hits, from 1982’s “Lonely Nights” up through 1996’s “The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You.” Highlights included 1983’s duo of “This Time” and “Cuts Like a Knife,” 1985’s “Summer of ’69” and “Heaven,” and 1993’s “Please Forgive Me.”
After briefly leaving the stage, Adams invited the crowd to fill up the aisles for the five-song encore, which included a rocking version of 1985’s “Somebody” and “I Still Miss You…A Little Bit,” a humorous song from his 2010 album of the on-going “Bare Bones” tour.
He then ended the evening with a touching rendition of 1983’s “Straight from the Heart,” leaving the crowd enthusiastically singing along and wanting more.