Bryan Adams in London, “Reckless 30th Anniversary Tour”, on a Saturday? I HAD TO be there. So I grabbed the Mrs. and there we went.
It was my first time going to a concert in London. I took the tube. No sign of people going to the gig during the trip to the O2. As soon as I got out I saw its unmistakable external structure, kind of reminiscent of a circus.
Bought something to drink and in we went. To me, the main difference from other arenas I´d been to was how high it was. In fact, people suffering from vertigo or fear of heights was recommended to not buy a ticket in the highest areas; that´s how high it was.
The floor was filled with seats (I´ll NEVER understand seats at a rock concert, even Adams himself has commented about it several times during this tour).
As for the crowd… I´d say the average age was late 40´s – early 50´s. Didn´t see a whole lot of BA t-shirts, and most of the ones I did see were the ones from this tour, which you could buy on the stands. One exception wore “18 ´Til I Die”´s ´96 tee. In fact, I saw a few guys with cotton trousers and jacket, as if they were going to a social event, instead of a rock concert. Rock´N´Roll and cotton? Gimme a break… Anyway, I wore my “Into The Fire” t-shirt, the one I´ve been wearing since my first Adams concert 26 years ago.
The stage had two big screens on each side and a huge one in the middle, which showed the name of the album: “Reckless”. When we were just minutes away from the start of the show that image disappeared and then the original album cover came… and I won´t say anything else. I don’t want to spoil any surprises for anyone going to the show in the future.
At 20:00 sharp the whole band came on stage to play for the next two hours and five minutes; that´s Norm Fisher on bass and Gary Breit on keyboards alongside the inseparable Mickey Curry on drums and maestro Keith Scott on lead guitar with, of course, boss Bryan on mighty vocals and rhythm guitar (also lead guitar sometimes during the show).
This tour could only begin with the rifftastic “Reckless”, an awesome track that didn´t go in the record in 1984 for just a matter of days but it has been included in the recently released “Deluxe” edition. It´s an amazing way to kickstart the show which, when the chorus came, made me yell “RECKLESS!” as if my life depended on it.
Without stopping, the ending of the first song got almost intertwined with the recognizable drums of the second one and when the two guitarists played the riff in “One Night Love Affair”, a chill went from my neck down to my toes and the hair in my arms stood firm like a soldier. I was already on my own bubble and the rest of the O2 mattered nothing to me: it was just Adams and me singing in unison “You´re the silent type and you caught my eye…”. The heap of emotions and memories (many many years had passed since the last time I´d heard that song live) got to its peak during the last chorus when the band left the master alone with his voice and his electric guitar. The crescendo in “One Night, One Night, One Night…”, which began alone to be joined a little later by the rest of the band, reached its climax with the stunningly melodic solo by Keith and left me so helpless that I didn´t know whether to smile, cry or do both things at the same time.
There was no truce so the leader of the band shouted something I hadn´t heard for over two decades: “She´s Only Happyyyyy!!!”. Yup. It was “She´s Only Happy When She´s Dancin´”, the Party Song in capital letters, in which our friend displayed some lead guitar while he was interacting with the audience.
“She´s Only Happy” was followed, just as in the album, by the great “Run To You”, sung by everybody as if that was the first time it had been played to us, after which our host talked to us for the very first time of the evening. He explained that the first part of the show would be about commemorating the 30 years of “Reckless” and, with that in mind, he introduced his co-writer Jim Vallance, who joined the band on stage on piano for a singalong of “Heaven”. My wife cried. Enough said.
It looked like they were going to play the album in order, from 1 to 10, but after “Heaven” they went into a great, although shorter than usual, “Kids Wanna Rock”, with less interplay between Adams and Scott. They followed it with “It´s Only Love”, with Keith stealing the show as he always does on this song, after which Bryan spoke in great terms about Tina Turner and thanked her for having him on her “Private Dancer Tour” as the opening act; quoting him: “probably thanks to that tour, you are all here today”.
It was so much fun to listen to “Long Gone” live, 23 years after the last time. A great song that really comes alive on stage. Then we went from Side Two of the vinyl to the end of Side One to listen to that anthem called “Somebody”, a song that got a massive response from the audience.
The next tune, humorously introduced by its writer, was one of the highlights: “Ain´t Gonna Cry”, a rockin´ joy that ended just like on the record: with Keith Scott screaming at the top of his voice. Hilarious.
So there went the whole album. Right? Had all the songs been played? Oh yeah, they still had to play some “Summer Of ´69”. Anyway, as you can imagine, that one got kind of a cold reception ;-).
After “´69”, Bryan stood alone onstage with an acoustic guitar and introduced the next tune with a funny, although vindicative, praise of vinyl. He explained that some of the songs didn´t make it into “Reckless” because 30 years ago there were only a limited amount of material you could fit into a record. Then he performed “Let Me Down Easy”, another track missing from the original LP but included in “Reckless Deluxe”. Different from what we can hear on the special edition of the record, but beautiful and enjoyable all the way. A pleasure for our ears.
That´s when the Canadian singer concluded his revision of “Reckless”, but just like he said: “the good news is I have made 12 more records” and carried on playing 15 more songs until the end of the concert. Among them, “Cuts Like A Knife”, the song he´s played the most times in his whole career; of course, that beautiful ballad, written when he was just 18, called “Straight From The Heart”, the always fun cover of Eddie Cochran´s “C´mon Everybody” and especially, an unexpected and awesome “Too Hot To Handle”, another bonus track off “Reckless”, which he performed to please a fan who had requested it via Twitter. The live version sounded like an improved take on “The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You”: it became my favorite of the whole concert, along with “One Night Love Affair”.
So to sum up: an unforgettable night. If you have the chance to catch this show, don´t waste it. You´ll regret it. I´m telling you.
SETLIST BRYAN ADAMS. 02 ARENA, LONDON. NOVEMBER 22, 2014.
2. ONE NIGHT LOVE AFFAIR
3. SHE´S ONLY HAPPY WHEN SHE´S DANCIN´
4. RUN TO YOU
6. KIDS WANNA ROCK
7. IT´S ONLY LOVE
8. LONG GONE
10. AIN´T GONNA CRY
11. SUMMER OF ´69
12. LET ME DOWN EASY
13. EVERYTHING I DO, I DO IT FOR YOU
14. IF YOU WANNA BE BAD, YOU GOTTA BE GOOD
15. CUTS LIKE A KNIFE
16. CAN´T STOP THIS THING WE STARTED
17. PLEASE FORGIVE ME
18. WHEN YOU´RE GONE
19. 18 ´TIL I DIE
20. CLOUD NUMBER 9
21. THE ONLY THING THAT LOOKS GOOD ON ME IS YOU
22. TOO HOT TO HANDLE
23. YOU´VE BEEN A FRIEND TO ME
24. C´MON EVERYBODY
25. SHE KNOWS ME
26. STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
27. ALL FOR LOVE
I´ll leave you now with a video of some of the best moments of the