Last Thursday night we went to see the Canadian rocker, Bryan Adams, at the MEN Arena in Manchester. We arrived in good time so as not to miss any of the concert. At 7.30 pm we found ourselves sitting in a half empty arena as the support band took to the stage unannounced. We haven't a clue who they were. They were instantly forgettable and too loud to hear properly - I know that sounds like a contradiction but really they just seemed to be making a noise. After their half hour warm up slot they left the stage and it was another half an hour before Bryan Adams made his appearance, by which time any warmth that the warm up act had generated had risen up to the rafters, whilst the audience sat in a slightly chilly arena. Had we realised that the concert would not really start until 8.30 pm, my husband could have had another hour at work or we need not have bolted our meal then driven hell for leather down the motorway. What was also slightly disconcerting was that in the area where the stalls would normally be, the seats had been removed and the audience there were standing. The audience continued to make their way to this area and to fill up the other half of the seats during the warm up act and the following half an hour. For the duration of the concert people were milling around at he back of the standing area, and I felt as if I were watching from Picadilly Circus or Waterloo Station, as we were sitting at the back of the standing area. By the time Bryan Adams appeared the arena looked to be just about full, but I would not say that it was a sell out.
In the darkness it was difficult to see exactly what was going on, but we could see Bryan Adams on the screens either side of the stage. Then we realised that he was making his way, through the audience to a small stage in the middle of the standing area. From where we were sitting we had a pretty good view of his first two numbers, which he performed acoustically from this small stage. At the start of his third number his band came to life on the main stage and he made his way through the audience, back to the main stage. I am sure that most pop stars would not even try such a thing for fear of being mobbed. Now we were into a rock concert, albeit soft rock. It was raw, noisy and loud with a multitude of brightly coloured lights. At times the sound was so loud it was distorted. Bryan Adams performance could not be faulted, as he belted out his repertoire of hits for over two hours, bouncing around the stage as he sang. Strangely there was very little atmosphere in the area. Even the enormously popular Everything I Do, I Do It For You failed to rouse the audience. At last, and I mean at last as it was his final number, the guitar twanging Run to You had the audience on their feet. Then he was gone, returning a few minutes later to do a five number encore. By the time he eventually left the stage it was nearly 11.00 pm and time to head back down the motorway.