Photographs by Lee-Ann Richer.
Budweiser Gardens is on a roll with presenting amazing shows, especially the Canadian Icons! How can you go wrong with bringing in Canadian singer, song-writer, actor, musician, social activist and photographer Bryan Adams? I could write a review on his accomplishments but that’s not why you are here, you want to hear about the concert, right? Patience…soon!
“Reckless” originally released in November 1984 was Adam’s fourth album and it took Canada by storm! It was the first Canadian album to sell one million copies in Canada. It also sold over five million in the United States. This was significant as it was quite an accomplishment for Canadians to sell and be accepted across the border. Six of the 10 tracks were singles and made the top 15 in US Billboard. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” were the only other two to have this claim to fame.
Thirty years later “Reckless” was rereleased and the tour was launched in November 2014. Our trip back to 1984 started with the song “Reckless”. And would you believe, this track was not on the original release! Of the 13 songs in this segment, the six mega hits were played in this order, “One Night Love Affair”, “Run to You”, “Heaven”, “It’s Only Love”, “Somebody” and of course last but not least “Summer of 69”. The planning of this show was that of an artist and a very smart arranger – there was a B-side song between each hit single.
Just after “Run to you” Adams said “In case anyone didn’t get the memo, tonight we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the album Reckless,”. He went on to explain they were going to play a songs recorded for the album; however, some had not been released. To this the audience started clapping and cheering. Adams responded by saying, “Don’t get too excited…you might not like it!” The cheers and clapping turn to laughter! He had nothing to be sorry about as the crowd loved every song.
The songs that were seeded between the singles were “She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’”, “The Boys Night Out”, “Kids Wanna Rock”, “Long Gone” and “Ain’t Gonna Cry”.
Adams asked if anyone had heard of this medium they used to record on…called ‘vinyl’. The predominately older crowd laughed as he went on to explain that of the 17 tracks they had, only 10 made it to the final cut. The reason was because when you jammed too many songs on a vinyl record, the album would tend to skip.
You can tell that Adams is a photographer and an artist (with accreditations longer than this review) by his stage theme. It was graphically brilliant and classy, classy, classy. The band was decked out in all black clothes, illuminated by a clean, white light. The Black and White stage theme was further enhanced by Black and White images that were projected on three screens. All the images were linked to their songs and the artistry was graphically stronger than the best concerts I have seen. “Heaven” had lunar images and video, with satellites, that were a great enhancement to the song.
Some of the concert goers found they became part of the show. Images of couples with arms around each other, dancing together, and showing their happiness and love for each other popped onto the screens. Adams dedicated “Heaven” to his friend Rocky, who died that day from a battle with cancer. Then to change the mood the known guitar riff in “Kids Wanna Rock” kicked in to change the pace. Multiple flash back images of the band and concerts gave us lots to look at when we weren’t watching the band. The song closed with a 30 second power drum solo from drummer Mickey Curry.
Not to be out done, in the next song “It’s Only Love”, long time guitarist Keith Scott shared the mike with Adams. This song was originally released as a duet with Tina Turner. Keith ripped into a wailing guitar solo, using his hands and teeth! He ended it by whipping the guitar around his body with a guitar strap spin (I have seen this maneuver end badly!). Scott’s playing is a real treat! He is a very tasty guitarist and plays with feeling! Some licks sounded a little like he went to the same blues/rock school as Richie Blackmore from Deep Purple. After the song was over Adams expressed his appreciation for Tina Turner, saying, “We love you, wherever you are”.
Adam’s was in perfect form. A solid rock guitarist, he still has boyish charm and his signature raspy voice. He pushed it out and maintained spectacular pitch and tone. The 55 year old would run from one side of the stage to the other and back to centre where there were mics waiting for him. This way no matter where you sat, you felt like he shared some time with him!
Coming to the close of anniversary segment Adams introduced “Ain’t Gonna Cry” by saying, “this is a forgotten song that no one gives two shits about, (the crowd laughed) it’s a love song, and it goes like this…”. It was almost a punk song; very different! Scott ended the song on his back soloing with his legs in the air shaking, almost like the mic in the mic stand that Adams was holding over him was a Taser. With a yell from Scott into the mike the song was over.
“Summer of ‘69” next in up. The audience sang along to the lyrics on the screen. They looked like they were tattooed on a naked female, all over her body with the odd flash of her entire lyric pallet. He introduced the song “Let Me Down Easy” by saying it was written for Stevie Nicks and then added how she didn’t sing it because he didn’t’ know her! No harm because it was sung Roger Daltrey!. He played this solo acoustic and the band had a break.
Adams announced that was the end of the anniversary segment. It was then he noticed a girl was holding up a sign that said “Please sign my 1985 ticket”. He stopped the show and she made her way up to the stage so he could sign it. The crowd applauded her luck and his kindness.
Everything fast forwarded graphically as we were in Technicolor with the lighting and the images on the screens. Adams said, ‘even though that was the close of the anniversary segment, I still have 11 more albums!!”
The next segment started off with the power balled “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”. This song appeared on the soundtrack from the film “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” as well as Adam’s sixth album “Waking Up the Neighbours”. It was interesting to see how concert times have changed between when the song was released and now. Back then, during a song like this everyone would be holding up their Bic lighters, now they hold up their cell phones.
During the opening of “If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good” Adams asked for one wild woman who can dance. First two energetic young blonde girls got up but it seemed like the mojo wasn’t happening. Adams then focused on a woman in the crowd, “Monique”. She was doing a bump and grind in her black tank top and sparkly silver jacket. She was on the screen and choreographed her moves to Adam’s song. This lady had the groove! Afterwards Adams asked security to get programs and t-shirts for the three dancers.
The rest of the 22 song set was filled with songs like “Cuts Like a Knife”, “Please Forgive Me”, “When You are Gone”, “18 till I Die”, “Cloud #9” and “ The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You”. The evening was a night of great rock and roll, sing-a-longs, friendly banter and a classy show. Toward the end Adams introduced his band: guitarist Keith Scott, drummer Mickey Curry, bassist Norm Fisher and keyboardist Gary Breit. They took their final bow and left the stage.
After a brief chant for an encore, they were back for not one or two but a SEVEN song encore. “Straight from the Heart” and “All for Love” were a few along with an Eddie Cochrane favorite “C’mon Everybody”. The evening closed out with “London Bound” which he changes the song title to the location he is playing night by night.
I would like to thank Bryan Adams and his band of merry men for one of the classiest and visually entertaining shows I have seen. I also would like to thank Marcy Redmond and Budweiser Gardens for the great hospitality from show to show. Without their generosity of access for my wife to photograph these events and for me to review the shows, none of this would be possible.