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.