For the better part of the last 30 years, I wouldn’t have been caught dead at a Bryan Adams concert. His brand of adult-oriented pop/rock does not appeal to me at all. But I still had fond memories of the baby faced kid who tried to act tough but deep down was a nice guy (he’s so Canadian, eh?) and rocked great tunes on “Cuts Like a Knife” and “Reckless.” So when he announced that he would play the latter album in its entirety on this tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of this landmark release, I figured that was my window of opportunity.
Billed as “An evening with Bryan Adams,” the singer kicked off the set in a ballsy way with the song “Reckless,” an outtake from the album of the same name that was only released last fall on the deluxe anniversary edition. It was to be the first of three tracks that didn’t make the cut back in 1984. The musicians were dressed all in black (including long time accomplices Mickey Curry on drums and Keith Scott on guitar), and three giant screens showed the band in black and white for a cool vintage effect. “One Night Love Affair” followed, to the delight of the near sold out crowd at the Bell Centre. “She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancing” was next and Adams even let loose with a guitar solo. After a guitar switch, the unmistakable tone of his Fender Stratocaster rang out as he played the intro to “Run to You,” and the crowd went wild. The first half seemed a little tame, but after the break, where he picks up the chord progression, there it was, that missing spark, and he finished the song with all the excitement we remember.
Another outtake followed, “Boys Night Out,” which, when it failed to make the album, was given out to C-level Swiss metal band Krokus (!) back in the ’80s. The singer got the crowd on their feet for “Heaven,” sung with help from the Bell Center Choir™ as he let the crowd sing the first verse under the light of a few thousand cellphones (anybody else miss lighters?). It’s amazing how many hits there were on this album: six of the ten tracks were released as singles, and all of them reached the Billboard Top 100.
“Summer of 69” was of course a high point of the show, with another appearance by the Bell Center Choir™. The lyrics were displayed on screen tattoed on a naked woman, not that anyone present needed help to remember them. The “Reckless” segment concluded with another outtake, “Let Me Down Easy,” which had been given to The Who’s singer Roger Daltrey. “That’s it. That’s all the songs from Reckless” he told the crowd after the song. “Lucky for you, I have 12 albums!”
He then segued into “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” which brought screams of appreciation from the female contingent. Cellphones went up, and Bell Center Choir™, at least its female half, sang along every word. I hate that song, but I have to admit: he played it brillantly. During the song, the camera panned over couples kissing in the first row: some people got lucky after the show, me thinks.
The rest of the set was a mixture of rocking numbers like “18 til I Die,” “If Ya Wanna Be Bad, Ya Gotta Be Good” (on which he asked a girl in the audience to “shake it” for the duration of the song), and the set closer “The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You,” intertwined with slower numbers. He played a few of the lesser known covers from his latest album “Tracks of My Tears,” and generally these were the low points of the set.
He came back for a generous seven song encore, but I saw quite a few people leave, probably because he’d played most of his hits already. “Straight From the Heart” played solo with an acoustic guitar was the best moment of the encore.
Honestly, I could have left after “Reckless” and not felt short changed, but what the fuck do I know? The Bell Centre was full of people singing along and having a good time, and anytime music can have this effect on people, it’s a good thing. Bryan Adams might actually pull off being 18 ’til he dies.
This show was actually an additional date, with the initial sold out show happening on Friday. If you’ve got tickets for that one, you’ll have a great time.
One Night Love Affair
She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’
Run to You
The Boys Night Out
Kids Wanna Rock
It’s Only Love
Ain’t Gonna Cry
Summer of ’69
Let Me Down Easy
(Everything I Do) I Do It for You
If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good
Cuts Like a Knife
Can’t Stop This Thing We Started
Please Forgive Me
When You’re Gone
18 til I Die
The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You
You’ve Been a Friend to Me
She Knows Me
Straight from the Heart
All for Love
Jean Frederic Vachon runs Diary of a Music Addict. You can check out more of his writing HERE.