Bryan Adams: With songs this good, no wonder everyone still wants to run to him

Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams - Getty

“This is the fortieth anniversary of Reckless – how did that happen?”

Well, it’s not – that doesn’t fall until November. But such a small detail wasn’t going to stop Bryan Adams from throwing a party on Tuesday evening as part of his three-night residency at the Albert Hall. Dividing the evening into two halves – an album set, followed by one comprised of “just a bunch of random songs” – the groover from Vancouver delivered even more nostalgia than usual as he held aloft his finest work.

Prior to Reckless, Adams’s career had been slow to sprout. Response to his eponymous 1980 debut had been so indifferent that for the 1981 follow-up he’d suggested the (ultimately rejected) title Bryan Adams Hasn’t Heard of You Either. Cuts Like A Knife, from 1983, had finally got some traction thanks to the title-track and Straight From The Heart charting in Canada and America, but it was Reckless that finally made him a global phenomenon. Containing six hit singles, including the still ubiquitous Summer Of ’69, Run to You and a duet with Tina Turner on It’s Only Love, Reckless shifted 14 million copies, including a million in Canada, the first domestic artist ever to do so. Aged just 25, Adams became one of the biggest stars in the world.

On Tuesday, for such an obvious open goal of an operation, he and his band served up an unexpected number of curveballs. After kicking off with the album’s iconic opener One Night Love Affair, the track ordering was shaken up, arrangements fiddled with, and album-adjacent curios aired. Moving things around to space out the hits more evenly was a smart move. Reimagining the colossal power-ballad Heaven as a twangy, up-beat strummer, less so.

Reckless – the song, left off the record despite its title – was resurrected, as was Let Me Down Easy, another song that didn’t make the record  –“So, I ended up giving it to one of my favourite singers, Roger Daltrey, who did a bang-up job”.

Interesting as this was, it was obvious hits like Run to You and Kids Wanna Rock that felt like a truly raucous celebration, capped off with Summer of ’69 – an example of “a song I didn’t think would work”, now with a billion streams on Spotify. Even having been performed live what must feel as many times, there was never a moment in which Adams looked less than thrilled.

The hits and curios continued into the second set. Spanning a further 18 songs, there was 16-week UK number one mega-hit (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, a joyful rendition of recent cut Shine a Light dedicated to his late father, Baby When You’re Gone (unplugged, featuring neither Mel C nor the rest of his band, but still a banger), and a brilliant appearance from the London Community Gospel Choir for Never Gonna Rain. Oh and – what else? – an inflatable car flying around for So Happy It Hurts.

It was a night that celebrated not only a record, then, but also Bryan Adams’s talent as a whole. With songs this good, it could hardly have been any other way.

Touring until May 22, then from June 11-23;