CD Review: Bryan Adams - Wembley Live 1996

Bryan Adams' triumphant Wembley Stadium show, now available on CD.
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During his career, Bryan Adams arguably reached the peak of his popularity, at least in Europe, during the mid 1990s. Nowhere was this more evident than in England, where Adams performed before 70,000 fans at historic Wembley Stadium. Coming not quite a year after the successful DVD release of this memorable performance comes a two-CD set of the same show, Bryan Adams - Wembley Live 1996.

Adams opens the show with two offerings from his then-new album, 18 Til I Die -- the Stones-influenced "The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You" and the garage rock of "Do To You." The former finds the band locked into a tight groove with lead guitarist Keith Scott's muscular riffing driving the song as Adams punctuates with some leads of his own while the latter finds the group evoking The Small Faces' "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" with Adams on harmonica. For a guy who made a career out of big power ballads in the early 1990s, these two songs serve as a reminder that Adams could definitely rock when he wanted to as well.

The power pop of "This Time" follows, with the capacity crowd matching the energy of the band. Both here and throughout, the crowd is the star of the show, enthusiastically cheering on and singing along to their hero's hits. That proves evident on "18 Til I Die," a song that finds Adams, then entering middle age, not quite ready to accept the fact that he is getting older. The audience is all too happy, with perhaps many feeling the same as Adams, to shout the chorus along with him.

Disc one closes with the massive ballad "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You." Adams offers a heartfelt vocal on the hit, which bookended the first decade of his successful career and somewhat signaled a sign of things to come, at least during the early 1990s.

Disc two begins with a driving rendition of "Run To You." Drummer Mickey Curry provides an extended intro to fire up the crowd and lead guitarist Keith Scott -- Adams' secret weapon during the performance -- colors the song with some tasty guitar work. The song was a hit for Adams and a highlight here. Adams' biggest track, "Summer Of 69," is delivered in triumphant fashion, with the crowd singing the entire first verse, practically drowning out the band in the process.

The show ends in similar fashion, with the crowd singing the first verse of Adams' hit ballad "Heaven." The song is a sentimental ending to a memorable show from Adams.

This concert captures Adams at a point where his popularity in Europe was at or near its peak. He and his killer band feed off the energy from the crowd, making Bryan Adams - Wembley Live 1996 a memorable performance and well worth owning for fans.