Bryan Adams: Bare Bones

Crooner from Vancouver unplugs his back catalogue.

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For a brief, tedious period in the mid-90s, you’d have been forgiven for thinking there’d been a power cut in the music industry, as rock’s hairiest practitioners traded axes for acoustics, perched on stools, used terms like ‘raw’ and ‘stripped’, and shaved the ball-hair off their best songs.

Spiritually, Bryan Adams is still very much a 90s rock star, so the recent run of Bare Bones shows – featuring the Canadian songwriter on vocals/guitar, alongside pianist Gary Breit – feels logical but works only sporadically in practice.

Adams is a tidy guitarist with a robust voice, and ballads like Cloud Number 9 and Heaven come through the mangler with their dignity intact (bar the second verse of Please Forgive Me, sung by Adams in a bizarre cod- redneck accent). As ever, the problem is the blood-and-thunder rockers, with a castrated Summer Of ’69 going off like a damp firework, and Cuts Like A Knife as disappointing as discovering that your hot date is wearing hold-me-in knickers.

Adams is too good live for Bare Bones to be considered a disaster, but after 20 unplugged songs, you’ll be itching for someone to go and mend the bloody fusebox.

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.