Bryan Adams rocked the Prehen playing fields in 2001, as a crowd of over 9,000 end-of-summer revellers enjoyed a fantastic show put on by the seasoned rocker.
The weather was perfect, the beer was flowing, and the setting was idyllic, for Derry’s social event of the year.
Fans of Bryan Adams certainly weren’t disappointed by a flawless performance by their idol, preceded by two equally riveting performances by the Undertones and Juliet Turner.
Reporting for the Derry News that day were Sara Plower and Joanne McCool, and they spent the day tracking the build up of events in ‘a day in the life of a concert.’
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Early am: Final touches to the stage set and equipment are put in place by the crew, in preparation for the big night. A tight security operation involving the police, and Foyle Search and Rescue has already begun, to ensure that revellers can enjoy themselves in safety.
2pm: Fans are already lining the sides of the Playing Fields, teeth gritted in determination to get the best spot to view their idol. Concert going is a serious business and these fans are definitely going to get their £27.50 worth, spending the entire day outside the concert venue.
3.05pm: The man himself arrives at the City of Derry Airport, hot off his own private jet. Bryan is greeted by a gathering of the local press ready to devour the media shy ‘Groover from Vancouver’s’ every word. Sporting a trendy new hairstyle, the star looks in top form for the evening ahead, although is somewhat bemused at the distinct absence of fans or even local dignitaries to greet him. Instead the media form the bulk of the welcome wagon, clearly delighted to speak to one of America’s most successful music exports.
6.30pm: Juliet Turner takes to the stage in a short set, that includes favourites ‘Take the Money and Run’ and the Tom Petty hit ‘I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You’, her distinctive style going down well with the gathering crowd.
7.30pm: The Undertones really get the crowd revved up with a fast’n’furious batch of their most popular hits. Paul McCloone belts out the summer numbers with plenty of energy to an enthusiastic crowd of Derry fans. Young and old sing along to the familiar tunes, as the boys prove they can still really get the crowd going. It is obvious that the band retain a formidable force of devotees, who are giving it plenty as the Undertones relive the hits that made them famous. Under the clear skies followers almost drown out McCloone, in the chorus of ‘Here Comes Summer’, ‘My Perfect Cousin’ and of course the old classic ‘Teenage Kicks’.
8pm: We rather tentatively set sail on the Foyle courtesy of Foyle Search and Rescue to get a unique view of the concert from the river. Fortunately it is smooth sailing, due to the fantastic weather, which really enhances the summertime atmosphere and the idyllic setting of the concert. Other boat lovers enjoy the concert from the tranquillity of the water, with a few onlookers moored by the Playing Fields in their own boats, keen to get an excellent viewpoint of the concert.
Crowds line both sides of the riverbank as the music drifts across the water to fans in the cheap seats (Don’t you mean free seats? – Ed.), enjoying the al fresco performance from the comfort of the Daisy Fields. Nearly 3000 people gather here, taking full advantage of the summer sunshine and the carnival atmosphere, unmarred by the distance from the actual stage.
Next stop is back stage where we attempt to catch a glimpse of Bryan before he makes his way to the Playing Fields. Unfortunately the camera shy star is staying well away from public scrutiny before the performance, and your two intrepid reporters are ‘escorted’, outside by a burly bodyguard, much to our indignation. You can but try!
Instead we decide to save our pictures for the hordes of fans pressing forwards in anticipation of the rocker, who is a characteristic 20 minutes late.
Adams emerges in the standard white t-shirt and blue jeans of a real all-American rock star, to a massive surge of noise from the crowd. Revellers, who have been waiting for hours (some all day) are finally rewarded, as their idol launches into a flawless performance that lasts two hours, kicking off with “Back to You”.
The seasoned rocker proves that he is certainly not past his prime, as he powers through his impressive medley of hits old and new, including “Please Forgive Me” and the record breaking “Everything I Do”. It is the phenomenal hit single “The Summer of ‘69” however that sends the crowds wild, and the concert steps up in pace as fans are blown away by the Canadian’s legendary voice.
The star certainly knows how to woo the Derry crowd, as he crashes into “A Night to Remember”, changing the lyrics to “The Derry Blues” much to everyone’s delight (and our own disappointment when we realise he is not singing “The Derry News”).
Adams then makes it a night to remember for one young fan called Anna from Limavady, who is asked out of the blue to duet with the superstar. Anna daringly takes the place of Mel C in singing the recent chart hit “Baby When You’re Gone” in front of the 9000 strong audience.
As Anna takes to the stage, another major fan of the Groover from Vancouver looks devastated. The Mayor, Mildred Garfield, who has been loving every minute of the concert up until now, stands up and shouts in frustration: “That should be me up there”. Mayor Garfield is delighted at the success of the night.
“It is going just brilliantly, everything has turned out really well. The energy of the crowd is amazing, even the promoters are impressed at the response of the fans.
"The town needs more of these non-political events to draw people together. May there be many more nights like this for the city, I hope this is the first in a long line of major events here. It really will raise the profile of the city,” she enthuses.
And indeed this could soon be the case as Bryan Adams promises his Derry fans that he will be back for a future concert.
The evening culminates in an impressive fireworks display for the hoarse and tired fans, who gradually trickle away to avail of the free bus services returning them to homes all over the city.
The clean up operation, to clear away a sea of plastic beer containers that have fuelled the party, begins immediately. By morning the extent of the festivities are still evident, and the clearance of the remaining rubbish continues throughout the day.
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Were you there that evening? Do you recognise anyone? Feel free to tag, share and comment as we would love to hear.
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