Bryan Adams Revisits His Definitive Hit Album 'Reckless'
The Canadian rocker celebrates the 30th anniversary of Reckless with a full tour performance.
Bryan Adams 'Reckless' 30th Anniversary TourCity: New York
Venue: The Beacon Theatre
There was a time back in 1985 when Bryan Adams' music was everywhere on rock and pop radio. His fourth album, Reckless, was a bonafide smash, resulting in several of the Canadian rocker's most popular hits: “Run to You”, “Heaven”, “Summer of 69”, “Somebody”, and “It's Only Love”. It was undoubtedly the album that made Adams a major worldwide superstar. But more importantly, Reckless did two things aside from being a perfect record, and the high-watermark in the songwriting partnership between Adams and Jim Vallance. First, it helped bring guitar-based rock 'n' roll back to the American pop charts -- along with the music of Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, U2, and ZZ Top and others -- at a time when British synthpop was the rage during the early-to-mid-'80s. Second, thanks to the success of “Heaven”, Adams' first U.S. number one hit, it further established the power ballad as a surefire way for rockers to get a hit single on the pop chart.
The crossover appeal of Reckless is undeniable; it has something for those yearning for back-to-basics rock 'n' roll, and something for those who love pop music with a slightly harder edge (in addition to the requisite ballad). Reckless remains Adams' best-known and definitive record, a fact that was not lost last year when the album was reissued by Universal Music as a special double-disc edition to mark its 30th anniversary. Quite fittingly, that milestone was also the basis of Adams' latest tour, in which he and his band performed all of the songs from the original record and more when they made a stop at New York City's Beacon Theatre, the second evening of a two-night stand there.
These days, the idea of artists -- from John Fogerty to Steely Dan to Patti Smith -- playing all the songs from a particular classic album for a live audience is now common practice on the concert circuit. But in the case of the live performance of Reckless, Adams interestingly deviated from playing the album's original track list straight through. Instead, he began the show with the rocking “Reckless”, which was recorded during the album sessions but never made it onto the finished record; the same could be said of the other track, “The Boys Night Out”, which was sandwiched during the setlist in between “Run to You” and “Heaven”. As if to end the Reckless portion of the evening on a memorable high, Adams and the band played the classic “Summer of 69” (which was the sixth song on the original record) as the closing number rather than “Ain't Gonna Cry”. It was a smart move to leave the audience satisfied with a recognizable favorite.
Of course, that was the just first half of the show. The rest of the evening was a cross-section of Adams' other hits from his pre- and post-Reckless career. It was certainly inevitable that the artist did “Everything I Do (I Do It for You),” the power ballad that became his biggest success on the singles chart from 1991, along with “This Time", “Please Forgive Me”, and another signature song of his, the burning rocker “Cuts Like a Knife”. The encore segment was a somewhat looser and stripped-down affair, with Adams performing mostly just by himself with a guitar on ballad-laden material: “She Knows Me,” from his most recent studio album Tracks of My Years; an acoustic version of his early hit from 1983, “Straight From the Heart”; and an very old track, “Lonely Nights”, which he explained was the first song he ever recorded in New York City.
Now in his mid-50s and still looking quite fit, Adams retained that boyish enthusiasm from his early years for this Beacon performance, proving that the passionate nature of his music hadn't diminished over time. A good part of his sonic identity remained virtually unchanged due to the presence of his two longtime band cohorts, drummer Mickey Curry and especially lead guitarist Keith Scott (who turned in some dazzling solos, like on “Ain't Gonna Cry”), who were accompanied by latter-day members keyboardist Gary Breit and bassist Norm Fisher. The energy from their performances rubbed off on the audience, which was, from my perspective, a fairly even ratio of men to women -- a testament to Adams's popularity across gender lines. They sang along to Adams' every word on the big hits, and some of the couples in the crowd predictably swayed to the slower stuff, like “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”.
Adams' Beacon show not only reaffirmed the popularity of songs such as “Heaven” and “Summer of 69” 30 years later, but also what a satisfying record Reckless was and still is from top to bottom. For the mostly 40- and 50-somethings at the Beacon, it was an opportunity for them to relive a part of their '80s MTV-era youth through their hero's signature work.
One Night Love Affair
She's Only Happy When She's Dancin'
Run to You
The Boys Night Out
Kids Wanna Rock
It's Only Love
Ain't Gonna Cry
Summer of 69
Let Me Down Easy
Everything I Do (I Do It For You)
If Ya Wanna Be Bad, Ya Gotta Be Good
Can't Stop This Thing We Started
Please Forgive Me
18 Til I Die
Cuts Like a Knife
The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You
You've Been a Friend to Me
She Knows Me
Straight From the Heart