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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Bryan Adams "So Happy It Hurts" Tour: An updated review


Bryan Adams, the rock maestro whose music transcends generations, recently graced the stage at Pretoria's Sunbet Arena, ending the South African leg of his "So Happy It Hurts" tour. As a seasoned attendee of Bryan's performances, having relished the magic on four previous occasions, including the unforgettable acoustic "Bare Bones Tour," each concert has been etched in my memory, invoking the euphoria of days gone by.
My anticipation for his Sunbet Arena debut was palpable, driven by the prospect of reliving the intoxicating atmosphere of live rock music and the sheer joy of a crowd singing and clapping in unison, all under the spell of Bryan himself. Excitement fueled my attendance on not one, but three consecutive nights of the tour, a testament to the enduring allure of Adams's music.

The vibe for all three evenings was nothing short of feel-good fun. As the crowd gathered in the arena, a peculiar yet exhilarating trend unfolded – the front row was encouraged to stand, inspiring the rest of the arena to follow suit by occupying the aisles. This contrasted with the typical seated setup for rock concerts, a challenge given the diverse age groups present, spanning from 10-year-olds to an 80-year-old lady seated next to me.

The crowd dynamic played a crucial role in shaping the different concert experiences. While the first two nights were marked by exuberance, some attendees seemed determined to try and outshine the main act, resulting in a cacophony that occasionally drowned out Bryan Adams's voice. This included loud wolf whistles at every possible chance. The last evening, however, saw a more considerate audience, allowing concertgoers of all ages to savor decades of musical brilliance and Bryan Adams’ angelic voice.

Although the experience was vastly different on each occasion, the performance remained the same. As the lights dimmed, signaling Bryan's imminent arrival, the crowd erupted in wild enthusiasm. Dressed in matching black t-shirts, Bryan and his band embraced a contemporary setup with a large video screen, projecting a modern aesthetic while maintaining focus on the music. The setlist, spanning over four decades of hits and 75+ million album sales, seamlessly blended new tracks with classics, creating a party atmosphere that resonated throughout the arena.
Bryan's interaction with the crowd reached its peak as he invited revelers to dance along with his infectious rockabilly track, 'You Belong To Me.' The concert showcased newer material from his recent albums, but the crowd's collective energy peaked with mega-hits like "Summer of '69" and "Everything I Do." A stripped-back rendition of select numbers, including 'Here I Am' and 'When You're Gone,' allowed the arena to transform into a choir, echoing every lyric as if their lives depended on it.

The concert's crescendo was Bryan's nod to crowd requests, with the audience selecting perennial favorites like "Cloud Number Nine" and "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." This interactive segment added a personal touch, making the crowd an integral part of the show. The finale, featuring two acoustic gems each evening, "Straight from The Heart" and "All For Love," provided a fitting conclusion to a concert that reminded us all why live music is unparalleled.

One of the reasons I decided to write a second review was that I failed to give credit to the whole band on the first evening. I do not think I am the only one and a highlight often overlooked is the musical genius of the band, especially guitarist Keith Scott. Scott's virtuosity added an electrifying dimension to the performances, showcasing his prowess as one of the most underrated guitarists in the industry. The band's unwavering energy across the two-hour-plus set demonstrated their professionalism and commitment to delivering a top-class show night after night.

However, the tour wasn't without controversy, a topic discussed in the first review as well. The management's decision to restrict photos and videos in the front rows stirred unhappiness among attendees. While this decision had its positives, such as unobstructed views, it deprived those with prime tickets of capturing memories. The additional peculiarity of copyright strikes for concert videos uploaded to YouTube added to the mystery surrounding this policy. Whilst we could not confirm the reasons for the decision, it was great to be able to see Bryan Adams without looking through thousands of cellphone screens.

Despite these quirks, each evening concluded with the entire arena on its feet, arms in the air, and everyone dancing, delivering the quintessential elements of a great night out. Big Concerts once again ensured a high-quality experience with impeccable sound, organization, and management. I want to thank them for the invitation to review the first evening and will always do so in an unbiased manner.

As Bryan bids adieu to South African shores, one can't help but ponder when he'll return. The thought that we may have to wait until his 70s is crazy, but one thing is certain – when Bryan Adams does return, he'll undoubtedly “go down rocking”, ensuring that the magic of his music continues to resonate across generations.

[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]


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Kevin Rademeyer

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