Bryan Adams could have only become famous in the ’80s. The Canadian’s gruff, earnest vocals and romantic lyrical bent (along with his throwback leather-jacket fashion sense) were perfectly suited to that decade. The fact that he has remained relatively vital over a four-decade career is testament to both the quality of the songs and the long memories of Adams’ fans.
A large contingent of 40-, 50- and 60-somethings made their way to the Allen Event Center on Sunday night to catch the veteran pop-rocker. Since Adams is touring in support of the 30th anniversary reissue of his 1984 album Reckless, the evening certainly felt like a return to the ’80s. Concert t-shirts featuring Journey, Styx and Foreigner were the order of the day as fans rushed to their seats when Adams opened the show a few minutes past 8 p.m.
On this, the second stop of the U.S. leg of his tour, Adams was in good voice throughout. Of course, the set list was heavily loaded with material from Reckless, but Adams plays songs such as the title track, “One Night Love Affair,” “Run to You” and “Summer of 69” at nearly every show. The audience dutifully sang along to each song, even the deeper cuts from Reckless. Indeed, the near-sold-out crowd was engaged and energetic from beginning to end. Fans were dancing in their seats, in the aisles, even in the concourses while waiting for food and libations.
When Adams began the prototypical ballad “(Everything I Do) I Do it for You,” many in the crowd hoisted cellphones and swayed like they were teenagers. A few even brandished real lighters. The hits such as “Cuts like a Knife,” “Heaven” and “Somebody” found the crowd singing along almost to an extent where such distracted from the band on stage. The entire show had the feel of a high school reunion, of folks reliving teenage memories with a gusto that bordered on frenzy.
Such is odd considering Adams’ songs require little heavy thinking, but the guy is the ultimate professional. On this evening, every moment was nearly perfect, every guitar tuned, every note sung flawlessly.
Yet Adams knows his debt is to a time long past. His most recent album, 2014’s Tracks of My Tears, is a pseudo tribute album to songs from the ’60s and ’70s. His bread and butter is a song from a Kevin Costner movie released in 1991. Adams is an anachronism, a man out of time, a commodity from another era. But he is pretty damn good, as well.
Adams played spot-on versions of all of his most memorable songs and did so with a vitality and optimism that was obviously contagious. At 55, he still looks and sounds amazing, and his songs truly connected with a (mostly female) middle-aged crowd looking for excitement on a Sunday night in Allen.
By evening’s end, fans left humming those indelible ’80s melodies like they had just been recorded last weekend. Adams had delivered a 28-song love letter to the decade that had brought him to prominence. His fans ate it up and went home satisfied with the shadows of another time, happy to revel in thoughts of younger days.
By Darryl Smyers