Bringing his guitar and some songs, Bryan Adams rocks out acoustically on Friday at the Civic Center
Rock’n’roll singer-songwriter, guitarist, photographer and social activist jack-of-all-trades. Canada’s Bryan Adams has obviously done it all, including selling more than 65 million albums worldwide during his three-decade-plus career. Songs like “Summer of ’69,” “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You” and “Heaven” remain anthems that still rouse audiences around the globe.
Adams started testing out acoustic versions of his most popular tracks in 2008, unsure of what to expect. The reaction was so positive, he’s back on the road sans band to support the continued success of his 2010 acoustic live album Bare Bones (Decca), bringing fan favorites back to life with an intimate twist.“In the beginning I was sort of flying by the seat of my pants, not really knowing what the reaction would be,” Adams says in a phone interview from the United Kingdom between tour dates. “So I just decided I was going to go out, have fun and play and hope people bought the music and come what may. I’ve had the idea to do that for a long time, I finally thought, ‘I’m just going to do it this summer.’ And we did it.”
Adams will bring his stripped-down tour, featuring keyboardist Gary Breit, to the Mulroy Civic Center’s Crouse-Hinds Concert Theater, 411 Montgomery St., on Friday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m. Tickets are $35, $50 and $75, and available at ticketmaster.com. For more information, call 435-2121.
Returning to Central New York always takes on personal significance for Adams. During the early 1980s his music was championed by then-music director Tommy Nast at the former 94 Rock radio station (now WYYY-FM 94.5). In fact, 30 years ago the 22-year-old budding rocker even gigged at the Lost Horizon for a Jan. 27, 1982, concert. So the singer knows a thing or two about lake effect, along with sharing a few thoughts on his fellow Twitter people and his Bryan Adams Foundation, a philanthropic endeavor that has aided tsunami victims, homeless youth, children who have special needs and many other charities.
Q: You moved a lot as a kid. How did that affect you?
A: I turned into a musician. What can I say?
Q: Was that a result of all the travel?
A: I mean, it’s a nice notion. But I wanted to be a musician from day one. There was no other option. I tried other things. I tried dishwashing. That didn’t work out.
Q: Did you have a specific musical figure that inspired you?
A: I grew up in the 1960s and early 1970s, the best time for music ever. So incredible. Those records are still my favorite records.
Q: Bare Bones was inspired by an MTV Unplugged set you did in 1997. How do you like performing your songs this way?
A: It’s a way of reintroducing the music to everybody and to myself. Originally the idea was to go out for a summer and just goof off and do this. I invited Gary to come play piano with me on a bunch of songs. And a few years later, we’re still doing it. It was going to be a summer thing and ended up being another tour which runs in tandem with my band.
Q: You picked songs using Twitter, right?
A: I joined Twitter because it was there and everybody else was doing it. It ended up that people would request songs and it became a useful tool. When I did the Bare Bones album I canvassed my fellow Twitter people, my fellow Twits, just to see what they would say and what they would recommend. There were some interesting options, some things I hadn’t thought of. I had an idea of what I was going to do, but having the influence of the fans is always good because it verifies and disqualifies some things. It’s a nice way of getting feedback.
Q: When you first recorded this album didn’t someone scream through the whole show?
A: Here’s what happened. The idea on Bare Bones was we were going to record the whole thing in one night. We were in Oslo, Norway, and there was a guy—a big fan, obviously—and he just kept going “I LOVE YOU, MAN! I LOVE YOU!” And he’d do it in the most inopportune moments. In between songs was fine, but in the middle of a very nice sort of slow song, he’d just go, “I LOVE YOU, MAN!” So I walked off the stage that night and said, “Well, I guess were gonna have to record another night.” I thought it was funny.
Q: You have your own foundation and are active with other social groups. What’s your motivation to get involved?
A: I don’t think I’m any different than any of my other colleagues in the music business. When you get in the spotlight, people tend to gravitate toward you and ask you to do things. Some of the things are close to your heart, so you get involved. By no means do I think I’m in any way exclusive to that. There are lots of people that do that in all walks of life. I think when you do actually have the privilege and the opportunity and the name to potentially make a change, it’s right to do it if you feel there is some attachment or some affinity to what the cause might be.
Q: Your foundation focuses on education. What’s your affinity toward that?
A: Education. . . it wasn’t a natural thing to fall into in
the beginning because I’m not educated. I’m a dropout. The first thing
that was on my mind was helping kids. So one of the ways you help kids
is by giving them a chance on some level. That’s all anybody ever wanted
in this world was a chance.
Q: What do you gain in working with your foundation?
A: It doesn’t just stop or begin there. It’s something I’ve been doing for a really long time and there’s a great gratification in being able to help people out if you can. That thing about helping people out within your own community is a very good thing. It only can expand from there if you feel that’s something you need to do.
Q: Musically, you’ve worked with many people. What do you look for in people you work with?
A: I’ve worked with some of the greatest singers ever. When it comes to people like Sting and Rod Stewart, for example, I’m just a big fan, so it’s great. When it comes to people like Tina Turner, again, I was just a big fan. I chased her up and asked if she wanted to sing the song “It’s Only Love” and she said, “Yeah.” On some level you have to be a fan to work with somebody.
Q: Can you think of a specific memorable performance?
A: Well, I broke out of New York, so I love playing in New York and every time I come back there I’m pretty happy. I feel at home. I actually broke out up where you are: the Syracuse-Rochester area. Oh yes, I know all about it. And it’s cold as hell up there.
Q: We haven’t gotten much snow yet.
A: You will. I’ll make sure because I’m from Canada. It’s coming down. Trust me.
Q: What’s next?
A: I imagine I’ll tour all year again. We’re touring Japan. We’re gonna go back to Europe again with the band. And I expect I’ll start working on the record next year. I’m just putting music out. I’ve got a YouTube channel, youtube.com/bryanadams, which I always update with new films and it’s kind of a cool archive. You can see all of the kookie films I’ve put up there over the years.
Q: Is there a modern artist performing today who is inspiring you now?
A: Well, I haven’t really gone out to see a lot of bands recently. I haven’t seen anything lately that blew my mind. I need to get out of the house more.