South Florida lends itself to people stripping down. Celebs, residents and tourists do it all the time. Canadian rocker Bryan Adams is no exception.
But Adams, a perennial MTV favorite in the 1980s for a string of hits from his 1984 Reckless album and an American Idol staple for his ’90s ballads like Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? limits his public stripping to his musical endeavors.
On Friday, Adams brings his acoustic Bare Bones Tour to Miami’s historic Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts.
“It’s me and my guitar, and a pianist joins me for half the show,” Adams, 53, said in a phone interview last week from London, where the Kingston, Ontario-born rocker has a home. “This allows a diversion from what I usually do. The idea is to focus on the music and lyrics, and it’s interesting to see how well they stand up. It took me a long time to have the confidence to do something without the band. Most artists start their careers in smaller venues, with smaller acoustic bands, busking,” he continued. “I went the other way and started with the band. I wanted to be loud and proud.”
Adams, who has written and produced songs for Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon and Barbra Streisand, is also trying other people’s music on an album of originals and covers he’s currently recording for early 2014. “It will probably be a surprise to a lot of people who would not expect me to have gravitated to ’70s R&B and stuff.”
Fans of crunchy rock staples like Run to You, Cuts Like a Knife and Summer of ’69 might also not have expected Adams’ other recent project, a coffee-table photo book, Exposed (Steidl, $80), which features a retrospective of his photographic portraits of entertainment, fashion and art industry figures. Among the images Adams captured: a shot of a bikini-clad Amy Winehouse that wound up as the cover of her 2011 posthumous album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures.
Photography, Adams said, “is like everything I’ve gotten myself involved in. I don’t do things in half. I just like to be able to go back to my music and have a fresh head. Sometimes they say a change is as good as a rest.”
Adams, born to a Canadian diplomat father who whisked the family all over the world — Adams had lived in Britain, the Middle East, Austria and Vancouver, British Columbia, by the time he was 14 — has found the perfect day job. Rock stars travel.
“It’s hard to say that starting your life as a traveler with your parents [conditioned me], but I’ll tell you one thing: It made me less fearful of the unknown. During the 1990s, I played places nobody played before — India, Pakistan, Vietnam. In many ways, we opened doors to other bands. Mick Jagger called and asked, ‘What’s it like in India? Tell me about it.’ Perhaps by having lived in some Middle Eastern countries as a child and seeing them gave me insight. Wasn’t as scary as people thought it might be.”
As Adams told his initially apprehensive crew: “They absolutely love the music. Everyone wants to be part of the Western pop culture. Kids wanna rock no matter where you go.”
Bryan Adams performs at 8 p.m. Friday at Olympia Theater at Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami. Tickets: $42-$79. 305-372-0925 or www.gusmancenter.org. Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.