Connect with us


Bryan Adams Continues a Summer of Rock at Thetford Forest [Show Review]

The Canadian rock icon Bryan Adams brings a Summer of huge rock classics to Thetford Forest with support from nu-Gen alt-rocker Cassyette..



Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams, press photo

What if a sad girl mixtape was so happy it hurts? What if a sad girl summer of ’69 returned to the future, 55 years, some 20,000 days beyond the summer of love? What if this world fucking sucks, but even when life cuts like a knife, music and community are there to make things right.

What if Gen-Z kidz, boomer kids at heart and all the other generational iterations in between just wanna rock, just wanna have fun, in the shade in the sun? Could it happen? Could music, once again, be the fabric, that threads the human race, the working class, the ruling class, the haves, the have-nots, the half-cocked, pompous snobs and the wonton sots, and other forms of happenstance? Could it be a bind that lasts?

Cue cloud-breathing trees, cue pine needles, cue a gargantuan field of dreams in the land of the Queen, built in the middle of a ginormous forest situated between Brandon in Suffolk County and Thetford in the Breckland District of Norfolk in the northeast English countryside.

Having lived in Chicago for much of my youth, attending many concerts at Ravinia, the site of North America’s oldest music festival in a gently wooded 36-acre facility, I was familiar with what to possibly expect. Though perhaps not, as Thetford Forest is the UK’s largest man-made forest covering 18,730 hectares. So, yeah, roughly the same size.

Staying in a lovely converted garage in nearby Thetford, I opened up my ride-share app. Great, a driver was on the way but would take 20 minutes. The graciously polite bloke soon arrived. I commented that he had to drive from two towns over to pick me up and he said that’s because he was the area’s only Uber driver?!? What the flub? Guess in a small walkable town of 24,000 inhabitants, there isn’t much need but lucky was I that Sir Anthony Robert was not off the clock or nodding off.

Arriving at the event, much like drop-offs at Reading, Leeds, Rock am Ring, Rock Im Park, Coachella, and others, there was a maze of paths and hundreds of steps to take before the front gate. This time though, I was surrounded by the elders, their apt wisdom marinating for decades while we grazed. Their burly comfort gave me solace knowing a sandstorm wouldn’t blind my sight at the peak of fireflies illuminating the coat of night.

Passing by the High Lodge, I heard the closing songs of lead opener, Vivas, a Sheffield rock band that bristled with a palpable energy. The sun was still going strong, sweat beading on my brow, it was only a matter of time now. Next up was Essex nu-gen alt-rocker Cassy Brooking, better known as Cassyette, who had just melted the masses at Download Fest the weekend before, further adding to her growing resume of plum milestones, previously supporting the likes of Sum 41, Willow Smith, My Chemical Romance (on their comeback tour), and Bring Me The Horizon. A few under-the-radar acts.

With powerful vocals, a commanding stage presence and candid conversational honesty, Cassyette may have, at first, seemed out of place with her harder-edged metal-tinged sound but poignant songs like the newly released “Four Leaf Clover” about the recent passing of her father, and the forthcoming “Friends in Low Places” (not a Garth Brooks cover, though they do share the Brook and perhaps the river to the sea), the emotional urgency of her lyrics shape heartstrings in similar waves as the universal cascades of “Heaven” or “When You’re Gone.”

Cassyette closed her set in epic fashion with the scintillating triumvirate of “Mayhem,” “Petrichor” (the smell after it rains, a word that emanates from the Greek words “petra,” meaning stone and “ichor,” which in Greek mythology refers to the golden fluid that flows in the veins of the immortals) and her caustic breakout hit, “Dear Goth.” It was momentous, it was sick, it brimmed with excellence, a masterful triumph washing away any hint of ipecacuanha.

Closing the night while opening the Forest Live summer series which will also welcome Sting, Paloma Faith, Tom Jones and Olly Murs, was none other than Canadian icon, Bryan Adams, highly regarded for his grand balladry, visceral music set to motion pictures as emotional pictures resonate like time in a vacuum, it’s all-consuming.

Months away from turning 65, which Bryan Adams namechecks in the song, “18 ‘Til I Die” (changing the original lyric “some day I’ll be 18 going on 55” to “65”) and his 50th year in music, arriving in 2025, he still emulates many of the same passionate rock star mannerisms as when I saw him as a young man opening for Journey on their Frontiers tour, I believe his second U.S. tour and one of my first as a pre-millennium vampire. He’s settled comfortably into his James Dean meets Grease rockabilly look which is a measured cloak to bear for someone who appreciates the fine art of aesthetics, gleaned from years as a high-minded, haute photographer in search of the essence of the world and someone who’s been there and done that and knows pomp from circumstance.

Revving up the festivities with the one-two punch of “Kick Ass” and “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started,” Bryan Adams was there to deliver the goods in only the way that a lifetime of performances can deliver. And deliver he did. Song after song, hit after hit, anthem after anthem, he pulled no punches while delivering round after round of knockout blows, though ones you could shake your middle-aged booty to.

Among the highlights was “It’s Only Love,” the original featured Tina Turner, a dear friend, so he then segued into a medley of “Simply The Best” and “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” thanking her for giving him his break in the UK when she took him on her Private Dancer Tour in 1985.

And from there, the train kept a-rollin’ seemingly all night long. Would we soon be dancing on the ceiling or just dancing among the throngs?

Akin to Cassyette with her firestorm triplet at the end of her set, Bryan Adams closed his with “Run to You,” “Summer of ’69” and “Cuts Like A Knife,” the 80s were once again making everyone crazy.

Maybe it was the 10,000 frenzied faces, smiling and placating as brain waves went every which way, maybe it was the swaths of fresh oxygen from the teetotaling frothland, maybe it was the Yankee seeing a Canuck in a forest of Brits and other European sorts, but for a brief blip, our differences no longer cut like a knife, they went straight from the heart to a beautiful plume under the auspices of a honey moon, wafting like the smell of petrichor, for three glorious hours we were all immortal.

Bryan Adams Setlist:

1. Kick Ass
2. Can’t Stop This Thing We Started
3. Somebody
4. 18 ’Til I Die
5. House Arrest
6. Take Me Back
7. Kids Wanna Rock
8. Heaven
9. Go Down Rockin’
10. It’s Only Love / Simply The Best / What’s Love Got To Do With It
11. You Belong to Me
12. The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You
13. (Everything I Do) I Do It for You
14. Back to You
15. So Happy It Hurts
16. Run to You
17. Summer of ’69
18. Cuts Like a Knife
19. When You’re Gone (solo acoustic)
20. Straight From the Heart (solo acoustic)