2015 appears to be the 30th anniversary for key milestones for some of pop music’s biggest superstars. Each of these acts wants to celebrate this milestone by going on tour. British blue-eyed soul act Simply Red not only announced a 30th anniversary tour (30 years in the business) but also surprised fans with an album of new material titled “Big Love“. Norwegian pop/rock trio a-ha also reunited (30 years since their rise to prominence) against all odds and are getting ready to release their new single “Under the make-up” and a new album titled “Cast In Steel” (slated for release in September 2015). Canadian rocker Bryan Adams has undoubtedly been in the music business for more than 30 years but it is safe to say that his “Reckless” album is what truly propelled him into the stratosphere of pop music’s ruling elite. The album spawned timeless and “larger than life” singles such as “Heaven” (a US #1 hit), “Summer of 69” (Adams’ signature track), “Run to you“, and “One night love affair“. The album peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 (the official album chart of the US).It is also Adams’ most successful album to date in the US. Hence, it seems fitting that he would celebrate the 30th anniversary of this album. Bryan Adams has done several acoustic tours (with no band – just him and his guitar) in the US over the last few years. I was privileged to have watched him in early 2008 at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. He even had his sheet music out and read the notes from there while playing. There was something supremely authentic about that experience. While enjoying those songs in their embryonic form, I could not help but wish that I would hear the songs in the form that I was familiar with. Fortunately, to celebrate 30 years since the release of “Reckless“, Bryan Adams is touring with a band and giving us the songs in the form that we know them. We were fortunate enough to catch him live at the Beacon Theater in New York City on June 22, 2015.
New Yorkers have great taste in music so it should be no surprise that the show was sold out. Fans were welcomed with the album cover of Bryan Adams’ “Reckless” album on a huge screen for visuals that formed the backdrop for the performance. There was no opening act (something that we are definitely not complaining about since most opening acts we have seen so far have been underwhelming at best!).
Bryan Adams was welcomed by screams of fans as he entered the stage and kicked into a track that never actually made it to the “Reckless” album despite being titled “Reckless“. The visual on the large screen was a lyric video to the song. Bryan Adams quickly entered familiar territory with his hit single “One Night Love Affair“. It was with the third song of the evening that the crowd started to realize that this was more than just a performance of Bryan Adams and his band. The visuals started to get impressive with each subsequent song. It was only after the third song that Bryan Adams started to talk to the audience. He joked around indicating that the Beacon Theatre is the only venue at which he can actually hear himself sing and that he found that quite disconcerting. He also explained that the first half of his show would be devoted exclusively to “Reckless” – both to the songs from the album that made him a household name as well as the songs that did not quite make the final cut for the album. In the later years of his career, Bryan Adams’ positioning in the music industry started to veer close to that of a balladeer. US #1 hits such as “Everything I do, I do it for you” and “Have you ever really loved a woman” started to solidify this position. Hence, it is easy to forget that Bryan Adams’ musical roots were firmly entrenched in rock in his earlier years and that aspect of his legacy was clearly showcased in the high energy first half of the show with performances of songs such as “Run to you“, “Summer of 69“, and “Somebody“. The hits flowed. The visuals forced everyone with cameras and phones to click away to glory (something we did a lot of too!). The highlights of the first half of the show were “Heaven” (a song whose first verse was sung entirely by the audience), “Run to you“, and “Let Me Down Easy” – a song inspired by Steve Nicks but finally recorded and performed by Roger Daltrey from The Who. It had become fairly obvious, that Bryan Adams’ 30th anniversary Reckless tour offered a dramatic contrast to the relatively muted affair that his acoustic tours represented. High octane guitars, pounding drums, and the fantastic electric guitar segments together made for an incredibly high-energy show.
As soon as Bryan Adams told the audience “you know, I had 14 other albums so I would like to play songs from some of those”, it became fairly obvious that the second half of the show had officially begun. Bryan Adams glided right into “Everything I Do, I do it for you” – a song that topped the singles charts worldwide and had a whopping 16-week run at the top of the UK singles charts in 1991. The audience sang their hearts out on this one. Other noteworthy performances from the second half of the show include “Have you ever really loved a woman“, “Can’t stop this thing we started“, and “Cuts Like A Knife“. The one performance that proved conclusively that Bryan Adams is a bonafide showman. He asked for a female volunteer that could dance. Rather unsurprisingly, there was an abundance of volunteers. Adams ended up choosing a girl named Andrea at the Lower Balcony Level to dance to his performance of “If Ya Wanna Be Bad, You Gotta Be Good“. To say she was amazing would be an understatement. She comfortably straddled the lines separating the provocative, the avant-garde, and the seductive. Through her seemingly choreographed moves for over three minutes, she practically became a visual embodiment for the lady being talked about in the song’s innuendo-ridden lyrics (“She got a nasty reputation and a talent for sin She’s the kinda trouble i’d like to be in“). The cameras got a close-up of her and broadcast her performance on the large screen as Bryan Adams shed his “nice guy” image through the song. Every audience member’s eyes was glued to the screen.
Adams had us guessing what songs he would perform for the Encore. The choices were very unpredictable. They included acoustic versions of “Straight from the heart” and “She Knows me” (the lead single from Adam’s 2014 album “Tracks of my years“). The final song of the evening was an unlikely choice but an incredibly pleasant surprise. It was “All For Love“, a song originally performed by Bryan Adams, Sting, and Rod Stewart back in early 1993 for the original motion picture soundtrack of “Three Musketeers“. The performance of “All for love” was yet another reminder of Adams’ ability to hit the high notes with relative ease – just as he did in his youth. This vocal ability was showcased through each song of the evening. Apparently, age and time has not eroded Adams’ vocal competence.
For some, 30 years might only represent a number. But when we look at a work of art that has endured for this period of time in a world (i.e. the world of commercial pop music) that is considered incredibly “flavor of the moment”, it is a milestone – one to be incredibly proud of. The current crop of artists is unlikely to have a thriving musical career even half as long in the commercial limelight. We heartily applaud Bryan Adams for celebrating this milestone by showcasing to fans an invigorating concoction of unpredictability, novelty, showmanship, and artistry in a concert that probably has many of us waiting for the 50th anniversary of “Reckless“. Last, but not least, we thank Bryan Adams for reminding us why he became among the world’s most loved pop stars through his fantastic performance at the Beacon Theater in New York City on June 22, 2015.
For those that missed the show, or are curious about, here is a short photo album capturing the concert’s highlights (Feel free to click on the photos to navigate through the album via Facebook):
STAR RATING: 5 out of 5 stars
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