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Bryan Adams and No Degrees of SLO Separation

Canadian rocker Bryan Adams brought his mainstream, somewhat formulaic brand of power pop to Paso Robles on May 21 for his first central coast performance in nearly a decade.

As usual it was an interesting mix of about 2,500 well-heeled, young and old, male and female patrons at the five-year old Vina Robles venue on an unseasonable warm evening in wine country. It felt like a night at the Fair, minus the cheap grandstand beer and 4-H fragrance.

Flying solo in my trucker hat and skate shoes, I maneuvered around the outdoor facility as a dapper Adams hit the stage with his posse of guitar, bass, keyboards and drum guys in tow, similarly clad in jeans and sport coats.

With a new record out, “Get Up!”, that not many folks know and isn’t a great seller, Adams and his backing band dove into three news songs before getting the crowd’s attention with his big mid-80s hit ‘Run to You’. But it felt a bit uninspired and slow, which sums up Adams’ dilemma: how to seamlessly shift from balladeer to rocker and back.

Still, the Vancouver-by-way-of-Ontario native is a talented, savvy entertainer who quickly found his groove on classics ‘Summer of ‘69 and ‘Heaven’, the latter including playful interaction with two fans who wanted Adams to marry them. Turns out it was my friend Cynde and her new beau Aaron.

Now that sums up SLO  – no degrees of separation.

As night fell and temps cooled off, the music heated up, especially underrated axeman Keith Scott, whose soulful lead guitar licks help drive Adams’ signature sound. A huge video screen augmented an excellent sound mix, with colorful visuals, old music videos and several crowd-pleasing crowd shots.

The set continued to build momentum as the veteran musician and frontman Adams masterfully mixed new tunes with old hits, heartfelt ballads with foot-stomping rockers. 27 songs and 135 minutes later, he wrapped up an entertaining, engaging night with an acoustic ‘Straight from the Heart’ after shooing his band off the stage. The rendition showed his talent as a singer, songwriter and guitarist worthy of the Canadian Rock Hall of Fame or any other for that matter.

The seats and grass were still mostly full by show’s end, thanks to Vina Robles major traffic upgrade of a secondary, back road exit through vineyards and onto Union Road. Kudos to Operations Manager Jeremy Carnevali and his team for keeping their patrons safe and happy.

Certainly, headliners like Bryan Adams always star in wine country but this beautifully intimate, spacious amphitheater shines just as brightly.

Story and Photo by Colin Jones

 Colin Jones has a new description every time he’s featured in the SLO City News. As the local Cal Trans PIO and concert hound, we’ll take his opinion on both music and traffic. 

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