In 1996, Bryan Adams was riding the success of his album 18 Til I Die, an album that moderately well in the U.S., but especially well in Europe. His gig in London's famed Wembley Stadium to a packed house of 70,000 fans is proof positive. The memorable performance was filmed and makes up the DVD Bryan Adams - Wembley Live 1996.
The show opens with a pair of songs from 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.
An appropriately rollicking "Kids Wanna Rock" follows, with the capacity crowd chanting out the song's chorus. In the early 1990s, Adams had a string of power ballad hits and the new material, as well as the first handful of older tracks played in the show seem to be a reminder to the crowd that Adams was much more than a crooner. Adams is in fine voice on the melodic power pop of "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" with the crowd swaying their hands from left to right throughout the song.
Scott offers some tasty flamenco-styled guitar licks to "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?" The track is arguably the best of Adams' big three 90s ballads and Adams gives a heartfelt vocal on the song. Melissa Etheridge joins Adams on stage to sing Tina Turner's part on a gritty "It's Only Love." Stepping in for Turner is no easy task, but Etheridge does so admirably.
Adams closes the show with a driving cover of "I Fought The Law" before getting sentimental with his own ballad "Heaven." Adams lets the crowd sing the first verse on "Heaven" and seems touched by how convincingly they deliver the vocals. The song is a fine ending to a strong show.
The show is presented in the original 4:3 aspect ratio and looks great for being over 20 years old. The concert is also well filmed, avoiding some of the rapid-fire cuts found in many current videos. The audio is Dolby Stereo and is well mixed and full sounding.
While Adams may not have been at the height of his popularity in the States during this era, he certainly was in England, as this DVD shows. Backed by a killer band and a great set list, Bryan Adams - Wembley Live 1996 is a great memento of this time period for fans.