|photo by Joshua Suddock|
In Bryan Adams’ song “Summer of ’69,” a recurring lyric goes, “those were the best days of my life.”
Yet another time period - the summer of 1985 – was when his career skyrocketed. Back then, you could barely turn on MTV or the radio without coming across the Canadian rocker somewhere.
Fourth studio release “Reckless” went No. 1 and was eventually certified quintuple platinum here. Adams became the third superstar (after Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen) to spawn six top 15 pop singles from the same album.
Last winter, Adams marked the 30th Anniversary with a European tour and excellent deluxe reissues featuring unreleased tracks plus an April 1985 live recording from London’s Hammersmith Odeon. The four-disc box set adds music videos, Blu-ray pure audio mixes, interviews (Q&As between Adams, co-writer Jim Vallace and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig are especially interesting for longtime fans) and ample unseen photos (alternate cover, tape boxes, studio candids). The remastered sound is punchier in 5.1 and proves Adams could definitely rock hard long before he became better known for power ballads.
Within the past month, Ryan Adams and Foo Fighters members testified to Bryan Adams’ still-enduring appeal, covering “Summer of ‘69” in their respective shows as video clips were all over social media.
The “Reckless” concert jaunt finally reached Southern California's Orange County on May 22. Adams and his sharp band – featuring Eighties-era guitarist Keith Scott and drummer Mickey Curry – put on a rousing two-hour show at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.
They brazenly opened with the metal-tinged title track not included on the original “Reckless.” Lyrics were flashed on backing screens.
For the Irvine gig’s first half, “Reckless” was performed in revised order and the still-raspy voiced singer nailed the yelps and high notes. All the guys were obviously having fun playing several non-hits for the first time live. Especially Scott, who palled around with his boss, ably handled backing vocals, made various trips to the lip of the stage, frequently let loose with some blazing riffs and landed on his back.
Vintage music videos were tweaked and projected amid a blistering “Kids Wanna Rock,” capped by a drum solo. The vigorous “It’s Only Love” saw Adams give props to “Reckless” duet partner Tina Turner. “Long Gone” was more laid back live due to new organ and harmonica flourishes. Utilizing piano on “Summer of ‘69” muted the rock bite.
Brawny outtake “The Boys Night Out” (about grand theft auto in SoCal and containing a line about I-5) boasted Scott’s fiery fretwork and a duck walk. “Let Me Down Easy” (initially recorded by Roger Daltrey) was a nice change of pace. Adams played it solo acoustic and displayed a rare vulnerability instead of all the usual bravado. He also made good use of the three microphone stands on the stage and at urging crowd interaction.
Lighted cell phones were held aloft and women squealed delightfully for the majestic ballad “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You,” then Adams singled out a sexy lady to gyrate in front of him during the tedious “If Ya Wanna Be Bad.” Fans raised two Canadian flags throughout Flamenco acoustic guitar-driven “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” (an audible called after a sound snafu).
The best was saved for last though: an ebullient “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started,” fountain of youth rocker “18 Til I Die” (where the line “18 going on 55” is now true), the usual crowd singalong “Cuts Like a Knife” and high energy “The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me is You.”
Come encore time, Adams vacillated between solo acoustic and full band formats, including the joyous skiffle of Eddie Cochrane’s “C’mon Everybody,” the warm “She Knows Me” (both from last year’s engaging covers collection “Tracks of My Years”), “Straight From the Heart” and “All for Love.”