By Kyle Wells
The first concert I ever went to was on January 31, 1992. I was eight years old and my dad took me to see Bryan Adams play at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. It was awesome.
I was, quite possibly, the biggest eight-year-old Bryan Adams fan in the world at the time. I had all the albums (on cassette, of course), knew all the lyrics. Hell, my dad and I were even members of the official Bryan Adams fan club. Needless to say I was stoked.
That was Adams’ last cross-Canada tour before venturing out on the road coast to coast again this year. I scored some tickets and seeing as it fell on the Father’s Day weekend, decided to complete the circle and take my old man to see my childhood rock hero, and a major source of bonding, again.
A few things have changed, mind you. In 1992 Bryan Adams was arguably the most popular musician in the world. Reckless, released in 1984, had established Adams as an international superstar with “Summer of ’69” and “Somebody” and a handful of now classic rock station staples.
In 1992 he released Waking Up the Neighbours (note the spelling. CA-NA-DA! CA-NA-DA!) and, more importantly, the now cringe-worthy “Everything I Do (I Do It For You),” which exploded into a number one hit pretty much everywhere in the world.
So cut to 20 years later. The neighbours have been sleeping pretty soundly since then, with Adams mostly putting aside the hard rockers for wispier, easy listening style fare. But he came on this tour as an anniversary party for the Neighbours album and a desire to stir up some noise complaints.
And I have to say, he brought it. I’ve been to a few nostalgia concerts and while Adams was certainly playing to the crowd’s desire, you never felt once like he was just rattling off the hits. It’s a little funny to hear the now 52 year old Adams singing “someday I’ll be 18 going on 55,” but the thing is, it still feels true.
Running and jumping all over the stage, getting the crowd going, horsing around with longtime guitarist Keith Scott, incorporating new media type fare into the accompanying screens, you almost believe he’s still that ‘80s rock sensation from North Vancouver in jeans and a white t-shirt.
He played every hit most people would want to hear (being a snob, I wished for a few more deeper cuts, but I wasn’t really complaining). People lost their shit when he launched into “Summer of ’69” and “Cuts Like a Knife”. My favourite song of the night was “Hearts on Fire”, the lone Into the Fire nod (his best album, in only my opinion it seems). Even “Everything I Do”, which normally has me changing the station, sounded pretty darn sweet in the middle of a crowd all wandering down memory lane together.
The most noticeable thing is his voice. It hasn’t aged a day. Granted he never hit the falsetto notes that usually disappear with age, but still, growling for 30 years takes its toll too. Not for Adams though, it seems, who didn’t miss a single note or once rely on a band mate to compensate on a now unreachable yowl.
When I first saw him in 1992, and then again in 1994, I was obviously too young to take it all in. I think I even feel asleep at one point (I was eight and it was late, give me a break). But from what I remember about the energy of the performer, this wasn’t far off. Of course the electricity in the crowd was a little faded (just like my t-shirt from the ’92 show, which I wore to this one). This is no longer the top-of-his-game world famous rock star returning to play for the home crowd after conquering the world.
But hey, considering that was 20 years ago, the no-longer-kids still wanted to rock and Adams still got the blood racing. No question.
I have no idea if it’s cool to like Bryan Adams now, if he’s come full circle on the hipster scale of acceptability, but sitting at the show with my old man, thinking about all our younger years, we couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear.