BETHEL, NY—I wrote a review of the Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center as a venue many issues ago. My impression of the place hasn’t changed a bit. The location shines in every regard, from the manicured grounds to the Woodstock Museum and, of course, the excellent acoustics and seating of the Pavilion Stage. It has quickly become my favorite spot to catch a show and deserves a visit if you haven’t already. (Go again!) Worth mentioning, from now until New Year’s Eve, is the museum’s Special Exhibit, THREADS: Connecting ‘60s and Modern Rockwear. Culled from Andy Hilfiger’s collection, the exhibit displays some of the most iconic pieces of rock fashion ever found in one basement, steamed and pressed of course, safely out of your never-cool-enough-to-wear-that reach.
If you time it right, arriving around 4pm gives a decent amount of time for a leisurely museum tour before making your way to the Pavilion Stage where, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a show every bit as good as Bryan Adams’s performance on a beautiful June 19 evening. Commemorating the 30th anniversary of his glittering, perfect gem of an album, Reckless, Adams proved himself as a classic rock giant (yeah…duh) from the show’s opener, “Reckless”, to his “Summer of ‘69” which closed the first set on a note perfectly suited for the venue’s historical significance. If I may, a word on “Summer of ‘69” because I’ve been trying to convey a vague tickle of a thought about how important this music is and I nearly had it teased out during “Summer”. My scribbles from the night of the show read something like “How special that a song can still move a crowd to sing along, stand on its feet, clap hard as possible – a melody that moved an artist to write in the first place so many years ago, practice, perfect, and perform again and again, over 3 decades up til now, in this world where things seem crooked, sad, mean. And yet we spout off political drivel and pull the lint from our deep corporate pockets to fund STEM initiatives and encourage our kids to be uncreative cube-bound lackeys. But that’s cool. Even if it’s something as simple as singing along with some ‘Nah, nah, nah, nahs’ we need this.” And that’s where I lost the seed of the thought and began mixing my Adamsisms.
Once the Reckless Anniversary portion of the show concluded Adams played hits from the rest of his (13!) other albums, like “Heaven”, “18 ‘til I Die” and “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” which, oddly, got the crowd pretty keyed up, prompting Adams to say, “Wow. We should’ve played that song before!” My favorite moment of the show happened shortly before a 5-song encore when Adams, stage left in the middle of “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started”, noticed a boy who’d been picked up to get a better view, motioned for him to be brought up to the stage, and had the lucky fella strum his old six string. Damn. I just did it again.
If you’ve any doubt of the depths of this man’s talent and ability to pull off a remarkable show with an excellent and humorous band, you’re probably thinking about it too much. Your only option is to catch him when he tours again, which shouldn’t be a challenge since he’s always bouncing from city to city at any given time. He shouldn’t be too hard to find, when you’re ready.