When Bryan Adams pulls into the Portsmouth Pavilion the Friday after next, he’ll have had sold over a hundred million records in the course of a lifetime, with over thirty hit singles.
He’s number 52 on the list of artists who have sold the most records. He’s sold more certified units than Stevie Wonder. More than Bowie. Or the Beach Boys. More than The Who or Johnny Cash. More than Jay-Z or Beyonce. He’s only a million or so shy of Bob Dylan’s totals, who has twenty years on him. Obviously, Bob’s been slacking off the last two or three decades, but whatever. The point is: Bryan Adam’s music is way more popular than anyone could have guessed.
One. Hundred. Million. Records.
That Bryan Adams is well liked shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. He’s hard working. Earnest. He gives gobs of money away to charity every year. He’s been honored with 20 Juno Awards out of **56 nominations.** He’s won countless MTV, ASCAP, and American Music awards. He’s got three Ivor Novello Awards for song composition. He has won a Grammy. He stays away from trouble or scandal. He’s just a nice Canadian boy who’s done his motherland proud. Cutting his teeth early on as a background vocalist for legendary Motown keyboardist Robbie King certainly didn’t hurt — but in the end his is a story of the triumph of the ethos of an honest day’s effort. The result? A musician that heavily appeals to our American heartland.
. . .
If you’re at all like me, you probably haven’t listened to a recent Adams record. For the sake of knowing what I’m talking about, I sought out his last release (2015’s “Get Up”) on Youtube to give it a chance. My initial reaction was a bit of shock that he doesn’t really look like I remember him. Then again, I probably haven’t seen a picture of Bryan Adams since 1991.
Having aged into a mature, elder statesmen of soft rock, he seems to have picked up a bit of rueful gravitas. The lyrics move breezily, simple enough to catch in your head. The initial tracks hit with a certain rockabilly vibe before the entirety of the effort settles down into the familiar vein his career was built on. This isn’t a bad thing on it’s own. The fans coming to this show will be seeking out the hits. They’ll come to relive the summer of ’69. Or ’89. They’ll come to savor past love and bittersweet memories. Memories of a youth now long passed.
They’ll come to sing the words to the songs they know as they sway back and forth hold tight in the familial grip of easy nostalgia.
There are far worse ways to spend a night.
Bryan Adams plays Portsmouth Friday, June 9th, at 8pm. For more info or tickets, click here.
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For the full schedule of Portsmouth Pavilion concerts, click here.