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Bryan Adams - 'Live At The Royal Albert Hall'


Most people are aware that I’m a colossal Bryan Adams fan. He was the first artist I was truly a fan of after “borrowing” my Uncle’s ‘Into The Fire’ cassette when I was eight, and I’ve seen him thirty-plus times live.

Adams’ latest release is a four-disc box-set (3CD/1Blu-ray or 4LP/1Blu-ray) that commemorates his three-night stint at The Royal Albert Hall last year (and now the 30th Anniversary of ‘Cuts Like A Knife’) when he played a different album each night with ‘Cuts...’, ‘...Fire’ and ‘Waking Up The Neighbours’. I really wanted to go to the latter, but was dealing with intense Covid anxieties that got the better of me. Therefore, I was really looking forward to reviewing this. As usual, I didn’t read any blurb or watch any videos, and boy did this surprise in many ways. The first thing that caught my eye was the track listing. I was expecting the album tracks followed by a selection of others, but no, it’s just the album cuts and that’s it.

I decided to listen in chronological order, so started with ‘Cuts...’ and what I heard was not what I expected. Instead of the roaring crowd, clap-alongs, Adams encouraging the audience to yell and sing or Keith Scott and Adams mucking about, the first disc opens with almost silence. What you then get is Adams and his band belting through all the album tracks one-by-one in what the video later showed was an empty RAH. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that left me a little disappointed.

However, once I got over the unexpected shock, I was soon getting well into listening to all those glorious songs, many that I suspect I’ve not heard in several years and maybe over a decade. I really adored relistening to the likes of ‘Take Me Back’, ‘This Time’, ‘I’m Ready’ and the title-track. ‘Into...’ left me with goosebumps many times and I reminisced about some of the first Adams’ songs I ever heard. I’d forgotten how much I loved the title-track, ‘Heat Of The Night’, ‘Another Day’ (my college anthem – “Woke up lying on the floor, can’t recall the night before”), ‘Only The Strong Survive’, ‘Rebel’ and ‘Hearts On Fire’.

The quality is every bit as good as you would expect. Adams’ voice may have lost a faint touch of its rasp, but he continues to sound great. He also still has the awesome, ever-present Scott on guitar by his side, along with Pat Steward (drums), Sol Walker (bass) and Gary Breit (keyboards), and musically and production-wise it/ they sound great. I can’t fault the discs, even if I personally would have loved fully live tracks for ‘...Fire’.

It thus goes without saying that I was euphoric when I hit play for ‘Is Your Mama Gonna Miss Ya?’ from ‘...Neighbours’ and was greeted by crowd noise. This is my personal favourite Adams album for a host of sentimental reasons. I have no room to explain what this disc did to me. It had me boogieing, air-guitaring and screaming along to ‘Hey Honey, I’m Packin’ You In!’, ‘House Arrest’, ‘There Will Never Be Another Tonight’, ‘Not Guilty’ and my old favourite ‘Touch The Hand’. As for ‘Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven’, there are a lot of memories tied to it and this one actually brought a tear to my eye. The recording and production are fabulous, and I honestly wish I’d overcome my fears to be there. The first two discs may not be the “true” live experience of ‘Live, Live, Live’ or ‘Wembley 1996 Live’, but this is still a fabulous collection of songs that show why Bryan Adams remains one of the world’s best live performers.


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