We went to see Bryan Adams at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, and I could not have been more pleased.
The theater is a small venue, and, unfortunately, it did not sell out. However, even Bryan Adams himself mentioned that this tour hit Birmingham a couple of years ago, and he was surprised that people came back.
I wouldn't have missed it. When I was about six or seven years old, my school held a fundraiser through a magazine conglomerate, and I remember ordering his album Reckless on cassette tape. It was about 1985, and the guy was all over MTV - a short, pockmarked Canadian in a leather jacket with a smoky voice that they could showcase anyway they wanted with shadows and light. For me, this was rock and roll - it clearly stood out from the new wave, R&B, and other genres outside my realm of experience. This guy was young and sexy, and he had something to say, even if it was not the most profound.
(Image via bryanadams.com)
Fast forward to my middle school days, and "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" was on every radio station and every video channel just about 23 hours of every day. I loved it. I turned up my mom's car stereo and sang along every time. I saw the Robin Hood movie but I wouldn't have been able to escape the song if I had tried.
Around that same time in Milwaukee, WI, Ben was also very much in love with that love song. He was obsessed with the movie, though, and this single shook him into awareness of Bryan Adams' career, whereas my own interest in him was waning a bit. Shortly after the mega-hit and power ballad, Bryan Adams' music started showing up on our local radio station that prides itself in being "not too hard, not too soft". I wondered where all these love songs kept coming from, why he seemed to be only on movie soundtracks, and why there was no more "Summer of '69" - type rock ballads with more story and fewer vocal shenanigans (I'm looking at you, Sting and Rod Stewart).
So when we were dating - or maybe before we were officially dating - Ben went to see Bryan Adams in concert in Milwaukee, all by himself. I lived in faraway Atlanta, and I figured I'd get to see him eventually. Thirteen or so years later, I got my chance.
On our anniversary this year, Ben presented me with this card. (Copyright applies to the design, y'all.)
If you can't tell, the card features lyrics of Bryan Adams songs and a happy anniversary message. It was a "hint" at the present, which I guessed!
I was so excited to see one of the few singers I have loved most of my life in person. It was a gift made even more thoughtful by the fact that our first dance at our wedding was the mega-hit, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You."
When he played that song last night, we held hands and I cried. We listened to the words and it reminded us, just for a moment, of those 20-something kids who completely changed their lives to be together, risking everything on this marriage.
Look into your heart – you will find
There's nothin' there to hide.
Take me as I am, take my life.
I would give it all, I would sacrifice.
Don't tell me it's not worth fightin' for
I can't help it, there's nothin' I want more
You know it's true:
Everything I do, I do it for you, oh, yeah.
Luckily, that bet has paid off.
As for the concert itself, we had kind of obstructed seats. It was the "Bare Bones" tour, and it was just Bryan Adams and his pianist, Gary Breit. Breit was extremely good - I could have listened to just him for hours. Bryan Adams was incredible. He played a ton of hits, as he knew that a different one brought each person there. He was patient and responsive to all the drunk rednecks who occasionally hollered out "We love you, Bryan!" and "Roll Tide!," which he (pretended he?) did not understand. He told funny stories between songs, and I bet he'd have had more if people hadn't been hollering so much. At the encore people were dancing in the aisles at the front of the stage - except us...I didn't want to get crushed.
He closed with "Straight from the Heart," which I thought was completely apt. Even though you could look at his work as a little cheesy or his lyrics a little trite, they are obviously coming from a real place. He was earnest and sometimes humble (sometimes not, as when he described his songs as "pretty") but he was real.
We hated his hairdo, we loved his music.
We had a magical time.