Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bryan Adams, Pittgirl, and one strange night

Periodically, DB~ is able to score some tickets to various Cultural District venues thanks to a connection. Yesterday, she texts me "Want to go see Bryan Adams?" By myself, "no", but I sensed that the answer for "we" was "yes". Besides, I owed her one for dragging her to see Electric Six at Brillobox this time last year.

So we met in town for a great dinner at Six Penn, which I anticipated would be the crux of my post tonight (DB~ had a lobster/crab risotto, I had a Cracklin' Pork Shank that was sublime), but what I thought would be a staid and boring acoustic concert by some Canuck turned out to be an enjoyable night. Especially for the wide spectrum of people that turned out for the show.

As soon as we got to the Byham and arrived at our seats, neither of our rear ends graced the cushion before we got turned to each other and whispered "Hey, that's Pittgirl!" Sure enough, we were sitting 3 rows behind Virginia Montanez and her husband. DB~ was a big fan of Pittgirl until she revealed her identity and then the mystery was all gone for her and she sort of lost interest. She was representin' by wearing a black and yellow scarf. Wiz Khalifa would be proud.

The interesting thing that we noticed is that Pittgirl is hearing impaired. She wears a hearing aid in each ear, but had her hair up in a ponytail tonight, revealing them to us sitting behind her.

I came into this show thinking I didn't know many Bryan Adams songs, and I probably knew only 60%, but he does have a lot of hits that you sort of forget about. But the hooting and hollering ladies in the racuous crowd sure didn't forget about them. I had no idea that even in his early 50's (my guess) that he was still a sex symbol. He has kept himself in remarkably good shape, especially for his age.

This show was on his Bare Bones tour. It was just Bryan, his guitar, and a piano with a player named Gary. And a sound tech, who for the first half of the show was the unofficial 3rd member. I don't know if Bryan Adams is a perfectionist or just fussy, but he switched off his guitar to have it tuned at least 4 times and he asked to have the piano re-tuned 2 times. Normally, this would have ruined the show for me, but during these interludes Bryan would interact with the crowd. At times it seemed like we were at a comedy show. He would humorously stare down people who were late arriving down front, answer people who would incessantly shout out requests, and ask for the house lights to be turned on so he could check out the crowd.

DB~ was sitting next to a lady who would just keep screaming "Puerto Rico Loves You!!!" over and over. DB~ also was grossed out that she smelled like she stepped right out from the Phillip Morris cigarette testing lab to come to the concert.

There was also a very inebriated lady with a white flower in her hair who kept trying to storm the stage and was repeatedly restrained by security. At one point she blurted out "I'm gonna be a grandma!" These were just some of the many oddballs in the crowd that ranged from late teens to early 60's in age. Very eclectic.

I realized as you listen to these songs stripped down that all of Bryan Adams' songs are about 1 on 1 interactions with a girl. All of his lyrics are like the first 5 minutes of conversation that a guy has with his girlfriend at various points in a relationship. In a way, it reminded me of a quote I heard from the lead singer of Semisonic in the late 90's. He said "I write all my lyrics as if I'm whispering them into my wife's ear."

As for the stage, it was also bare bones. There were only a few spotlights on Bryan and his pianist, Gary. At times, there were some footlights that shined up on them, which reminded me of a Norah Jones concert I went to a while ago. It was a very simple, yet elegant setpiece of English lamposts and mellow amber lighting. I felt like she was singing to us from the streets of London.

I imagine that during his heyday Bryan Adams was a chain smoking, womanizing a-hole, but time smoothes out many rough edges. I found him to be without any pretensions and quite engaging. He invited people down from the balcony to the few prime seats empty in front of him. At one point, a wiseacre in the balcony shouted out "Freebird!" so sure enough he and Gary cranked up an impromptu version of the classic, much to the delight of the crowd.

At the end of the night, someone gave him a bouquet of flowers and someone else gave him a Terrible Towel. Frankly, I'm surprised no woman tossed her panties on stage. It was that kind of night.

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