The phrase “18 Til I Die” is the biographical entry of Bryan Adams’ Twitter account. It could also be the motto of many of the 1,000 fans who attended the pop star’s concert Wednesday at the Uptown Theater.
Adams’ boyish good looks and husky voice enhanced the convincing trip down memory lane. Recurring themes of young love, fond remembrances of past achievements and a relatively sanitary sense of rebellion reinforced the evening’s wistful atmosphere.
Accompanied only by pianist Gary Breit, Adams performed 25 songs in 100 minutes.
“Run To You,” the first selection, set the tone. Adams recreated the instantly recognizable opening riff of the 1984 hit on an acoustic guitar. Imbued with dramatic yearning, Adams’ radio-ready voice enthralled the eager audience.
The economical format emphasized the song’s expert craftsmanship. A sturdy tunesmith, Adams writes earnest and uncomplicated songs that merit their enormous commercial success.
“I’m going to try to remember as many songs as I can tonight,” Adams said. “I’ve got 30 years of music to remember.”
Most of his choices were solid. Hearing old favorites such as “Cuts Like a Knife” provided a surge of delight akin to receiving an unexpected phone call from a long-lost friend.
The massive hits “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” and “Heaven” had fresh appeal when stripped of their bombastic and dated production. Relatively overlooked gems such as “Here I Am” were just as agreeable.
A handful of selections didn’t fare as well. The minimalist approach revealed that “I’m Ready” and “This Time” are little more than riffs held together by the attitude Adams invests into each piece.
Adams’ insistence on recreating the original material as faithfully as possible seemed like a missed opportunity. Hearing a new arrangement of at least one big hit might have added an interesting twist to the otherwise unvarnished concert. Yet in his role as a human jukebox, Adams appeased his fans.
The concert’s most potent moment came during a rousing rendition of “Summer of ’69,” a catchy celebration of nostalgia. While smiles abounded among the joyous audience, it was mildly disconcerting seeing hundreds of people fervently singing along to the line “those were the best days of my life.”
Setlist: Run to You; It’s Only Love; Back to You; Here I Am; I’m Ready; This Time; Flying; Do I Have to Say the Words?; Can’t Stop This Thing We Started; If Ya Wanna Be Bad, Ya Gotta Be Good; Heat of the Night; Not Romeo Not Juliet; (Everything I Do) I Do It For You; Cuts Like a Knife; Please Forgive Me; Summer of ’69; Walk On By; Heaven; The Right Place; The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You; Somebody Like You; You’ve Been a Friend to Me; Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?; I Still Miss You… A Little Bit; Straight from the Heart.