If you told me in 1990 that the world would face a year-long pandemic in 2020 and when it was over, I’d be pushing my credit card to the limit to buy tickets to see Bryan Adams, I would have stared at you in disbelief. We were already six years past the hysteria of Reckless and I never even picked up Into the Fire on cassette. Three decades later, I find myself a firm believer in the rock-n-roll of Bryan Adams and am looking forward to his return to Las Vegas in November. If the last two stops in Vegas are any indication, Adams will deliver an energetic show and play all the memorable hits. After the last year of being stuck at home, that sounds pretty good to me.
In 1984, I was still too young to know much about classic rock from the 70s and hadn’t reached my jaded teenage years where anything mainstream was uncool. For me, Reckless was one of the first rock-n-roll albums where I knew every song. Listening today, I can still sing along (poorly) with the first eight songs on the album. Add in the singles from 1983’s Cuts Like A Knife and you have some of the most important songs of my childhood when it comes to rock-n-roll. Bryan Adams made guitars cool for a kid who was obsessed with the synth-pop being beamed over from England. Along with Huey Lewis and the News, Adams was a gateway into classic rock and neither gets nearly enough credit for their influence on the 80s generation.
The aforementioned Into the Fire reflected a maturing artists and has aged better than I imagined. I just wasn’t there yet in 1987 and while I reconnected with Adams briefly in 1991 with Waking Up the Neighbours, it was short-lived. Looking back, that is another great 1991 album that was lost in the changing tides of taste. “Do I Have To Say the Words” and “There Will Never Be Another Tonight” are classic Adams tracks but “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” was the sort of ballad that just felt out of step with the changing times. When 18 Til I Die came out in 1996, songs like “(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear” were even further out of step with the decade and Adams was chasing more cinematic ballad success with “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?”.
He found his groove again on 1998’s On A Day Like Today which was a slick rock album with pop aspirations in the vein of Matchbox 20. The same could be said for 2004’s engaging Room Service. Adams had settled into a comfortable space as an artist who could write and record on his own terms. Adding Jeff Lynne as a producer on 2015’s Get Up yielded Adams’ best album since Reckless. Full of Eddie Cochran style guitar and songs looking back on younger days, it’s a wonderful listen for us aging music fans who want something new but familiar. The 2019 Shine A Light album shifted to more contemporary sounds including a duet with J. Lo. Far from his best, it’s also far from disappointing. Bryan Adams is nothing if not consistent. He puts his heart into everything he performs and I’m more than ready to sing along to “Somebody” when the tour arrives in Las Vegas later this year.