It’s the first time I’ve been to Wembley Arena (or should I now say the SSE Arena) for many years and it’s changed a fair bit from the tired looking/feeling barn that I remembered. On arriving outside the venue, a smiling member of staff greeted us and asked if we knew where we going (we didn’t!) so gave us directions to the door and the whole process of getting in was pretty efficient. The bar queue wasn’t huge and the general feeling in the hall was one of anticipation.
There was no support act and Bryan Adams plus his band (all dressed in long sleeved black t-shirts) came on stage just after 8pm – opening with the song Reckless. A bit of a strange opener in a way considering the fact that the album contains no fewer than 6 singles. Then he proceeded to play the whole album but not in the same order as on the record itself. Part way through the set Adams explained, that the first half of the show was dedicated to the Reckless album and that he would be playing some tracks that were recorded at the time but weren’t included on the finished album. He went on to explain that when Reckless was released, it came out in a format called “vinyl” which was around before even CDs – “you know CDs, those things you hang in trees to scare away birds”. This little chat is just a small snapshot of why his popularity endures – Bryan Adams is the sort of guy you could have a beer with or introduce to your mum. The band is superb and his voice has seemed to improve as he’s aged. The whole performance of the songs was interspersed with little anecdotes about certain songs and happenings during the recording and promotion of the album, including how he got Tina Turner to duet with him on “It’s Only Love” and he also thanked Jim Vallance for his input in writing the songs – then points him out in the crowd. Seemed strange that he was stuck out on the side of the stage, for someone so important to the success of the album. The band is tight and still includes the excellent Mickey Curry and Keith Scott on drums and guitar respectively, who appeared on the album 30 years ago.
After playing the whole Reckless album, he moved on (without an intermission) to the Greatest Hits section and the inevitable “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” – which this writer confesses, is an excuse to visit the bar (which a surprising number of other patrons did as well). Other classics included "18 ‘til I Die" – the title track of his early 90’s follow up to “Waking Up The Neighbours” (it contained the aforementioned behemoth single which was the theme tune for the Kevin Costner film about Robin Hood). I suspect the irony that the chorus line is “Someday I’ll be 18, going on 55” was not lost on the 55 year old Canadian.
A nice touch came part way through when he explained that whilst he gets asked to donate to charity quite often, he prefers to donate the chance to sing with him as an auction prize, rather than an actual item. At this show, a Linda Kirkland – whom he claimed to have not met, previous to him introducing her, was the successful bidder and her and Bryan belted out a version of his “Baby When You’re Gone” duet with Mel C – rather too well for me to believe her claim that she had never sung in front of a live audience before.
Then on to the run to the finish including others like “Cloud #9”, “Cut’s Like A Knife” and “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” before the band take their leave. Naturally there are two encores (including a great version of Eddie Cochrane’s “C’mon Everybody”) before Adams wraps up the final show of the UK leg of his “Reckless 30th Anniversary Tour” at just gone 10:30pm. It was a thoroughly entertaining 2½ hours and a lesson for a lot of acts who tend to do just over an hour and a quarter.
Reckless, the album sometimes suffers from the sort of ubiquity that means it and other great albums (Jagged Little Pill for example) tend not to get played much out of choice and – gasp – even skipped when shuffling but seeing this concert reminded me of what a great album it was/is. It also reminded me of why I seem to like a lot of older albums – 10 songs, no duffers and weighing in at a svelte 45 minutes, means that it’s not weighed down by the fact that the artist felt the need to put more songs on in a quantity not quality, value for money gesture.
Bryan Adams playing the Reckless album live – still a great night out, 30 years on.
Review by Adrian Grainger