BY LIZ MINIET
When the video for "Cuts Like a Knife" was showing up on MTV all the time around 1983-84, I was a sophomore in high school.
Please don't do the math. Please!
By the time Bryan Adams' massive hit album "Reckless" came out in 1984, what teen girl could ignore that man, that voice? (Not me.)
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So when I had the chance to see his concert Friday night and hear him perform the songs from that album (think "Run to You," "Summer of '69," "One Night Love Affair," "It’s Only Love"), along with other favorites, it's that feeling you get ahead of a reunion. Would that guy you thought was so great in high school still be worth a second look (or listen)?
Mother Nature didn't make it easy to get to this "reunion." It was a rainy night at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in Alpharetta, where the Canadian rocker and his band opened the season. Concertgoers and even the stage seemed to need some drying off before the show.
But would it be worth it? Was Adams still that guy?
Thirty years later, his voice is as strong as ever. His guitar playing is still amazing, and it's interesting to watch him switch among at least four guitars, depending on the song. (He often shared the spotlight with his lead guitarist, Keith Scott.)
Adams' show made good use of the screen behind him and his band, which also included drummer Mickey Curry, bass player Norm Fisher and keyboardist Gary Breit, throughout the show. While a lot of acts do that, it felt especially appropriate when you realize how much exposure Adams had on MTV throughout the '80s. If that had slipped your mind, some clips that appeared here and there would remind you.
So, how was our reunion?
Like 30 years ago, you had to share the popular guy with everybody else. That's OK. He was happy to see you ... and you and you. He opened the show with the song "Reckless," which is funny because that song wasn't originally on the album with that title. Just a few dates into a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the "Reckless" album, Adams brought an enthusiasm that seemed to say, "I really want to be here and I want you all to be part of this!"
Did you want to hear Adams' love songs? Of course. There were plenty of women in the audience, but it also looked like date night for a lot of couples. There was the voice that can melt hearts, plus a quiet atmosphere for "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" and "Straight From the Heart." The latter came with Adams playing harmonica.
Did you want to sing along? Sure. Sometimes, he held up the mic to encourage the crowd, like on "Heaven" (which had great "last dance" effects) and "Cuts Like a Knife." Other times, the crowd didn't need much of a push. I'm not sure I realized how much of a party song "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" was until I heard the audience really get into it. And of course, folks at Avalon might have heard the singalong for "Summer of '69."
Were you hoping for more of a party? Happy to oblige.
Perhaps some dancing — besides at your seats — would help. Adams looked for one "wild woman" who could dance (well, that ruled me out twice) to stand in the aisle and dance along with "If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good." It became a bit of a game as the chosen lady would get overshadowed by other women sharing in the dancing — and the time appearing on the video screen.
On the encore, Adams even invited people to move toward the stage and showed it on the screen, with audience members getting a kick out of seeing closeups of themselves up there. And there was an awesome scene at the amphitheater when Adams encouraged everyone during the encore to put their cellphones to good use and hold them up as lights for "All for One."
Even if it was just a one night love affair, it's a reunion I'm glad I didn't miss.