Move over, Anne Murray – Bryan Adams is Canada’s true songbird.

Thursday, January 31 was a bitterly cold night in the Forest City, but that did not stop hundreds of fans of all ages from heading out to Budweiser Gardens to see the legendary Bryan Adams. It was the artist’s second-to-last stop on the Canadian leg of his Shine A Light tour.

Adams may have traded in his blue jeans and white t-shirt of the ’80s and ’90s for a dapper suit, with his band in matching jackets, but that didn’t stop this one-man hit machine from bringing back all of the memories he has created in his career spanning 40 years and 14 albums.

Adams started the show with Ultimate Love, from his 2017 album, Ulitmate. It didn’t matter if you were unfamiliar with the words – you could sing along as the words appeared on a giant projection screen. Not every song had accompanying words, however, Summer of ’69 employed the same technique – even though they were completely unnecessary as the crowd sang the first verse unprompted and without error, much to the visible delight of Adams.

For me, I was born in the ’80s and came of age in the ’90s, so getting to hear the bangers of my youth like Run To You, Somebody, the aforementioned Summer of ’69, and Baby When You’re Gone had me bouncing around in my seat and on my feet.

Then came the power ballads. Heaven. Please Forgive Me. EVERYTHING I DO (I DO IT FOR YOU)

I felt the urge to slow dance grade school-style – awkwardly swaying at arms length, trying not to make eye contact, while keeping a watermelon’s distance between you and your partner (or leaving room for the Holy Spirit if you went to Catholic school).

I could tell I wasn’t alone catching all the nostalgic feelings in the crowd. At times the crowd was almost as loud as the band, singing along with the hits from the beginning of the show to the encore-closing number, All For One.

I’d even go as far as to say that Bryan Adams didn’t need to sing his hits himself. The enthusiasm and energy of the audience was high enough (and well-versed enough in his catalogue of songs to do it themselves).

I’m glad he didn’t choose this option though – that man has the voice of an angel.

Adams is not just a very talented musician and songwriter. His showmanship is top-notch as well. Putting microphone stands on either corner of the very large stage so he could go from centre, to left, to right to sing to the crowd made a venue as large as Budweiser Gardens feel as intimate a venue as your local pub.

Not to mention the camaraderie with his bandmates making for a tight show with lots of musical flare to boot. Adams had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand from start to finish, following his requests for sing-alongs, commiserating about the cold snap/polar vortex, and getting out their phone lights for a truly spectacular display.

Overall, the show itself was a perfect mix of old familiar and rocking new material. The crowd spanned in age from those in single digits to seniors – all of whom seemed to collectively agree that this was a good show (judging by cheers and people on their feet).

Bryan Adams is also giving back on this tour. For every ticket purchased, DHL logistics in partnership with Bryan Adams will plant one tree. With 80 shows on this tour, that’s a lot of trees. How fitting that the Forest city was among the stops.

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