BALTIMORE – A cheeky video opened Bryan Adams' show that proclaimed him the savior of rock 'n' roll. Out of the darkness, the man himself appeared in a shard of red light to rumble through "Kick Ass," a rowdy rocker true to its title.
The song is from Adams’ 2022 album, "So Happy It Hurts," and confirmed that 40-plus years into his career, the Canadian hitmaker, while maybe not the savior of rock 'n' roll, deserves much applause for keeping its pulse racing.
On Tuesday, Adams landed at Baltimore's CFG Bank Arena for the launch of the So Happy It Hurts tour, which will hit U.S. arenas through August with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts serving as exceptional openers.
Adams, 63, and his taut four-piece band including longtime guitarist Keith Scott, began their world voyage in January 2022 with a spate of dates in Asia and Europe. The muscularity that comes with consistent performing was evident in a 100-minute, 23-song set stocked with well-worn chestnuts and a few nods to newer fare.
Clad in a casual uniform of dark pants and sneakers, Adams roamed the open stage while playing guitar, frequently hopping down to a platform that sported microphone stands at each end to hit every segment of the arena.
Whether rolling through the joyfully swinging "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" or leading the crowd that filled the lower bowl and floor of the venue through fist-pumper "Somebody," Adams proved that songs he tailored for arenas decades ago still resound with a melodic punch.
While guitar crunchers "It's Only Love" – recorded, he reminded, with "the great Tina Turner" – and "The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me is You" rattled appropriately, Adams is also regarded as a bit of a ballad king, and he didn’t disappoint those enamored with his softer contributions.
"Please Forgive Me" and "Here I Am" drew modest cheers, but the indelible piano opening from Gary Breit on "Heaven" prompted an immediate singalong of the first verse. Though Adams happily obliged the crowd their karaoke moment, his own voice soared with its trademark warm gruffness.
Surprisingly, for all of the high-octane offerings - "18 Til I Die" and the fun-but-ridiculously-ubiquitous "Summer of '69" among them – a highlight of the concert was pegged to another slow burner, His 1991 multiplatinum megahit about unyielding devotion, "(Everything I Do) I Do it For You," bears the stain of extreme popularity at proms and weddings, and because the masses love it, it can’t possibly be good, right? Yes, it’s treacly. It’s also sweet, meaningful and on this night, performed with impressive range.
Adams' catalog is unquestionably durable. Who would argue the air guitar joys of the no-frills "Cuts Like a Knife" or "Run to You?"
But even recent offerings, including "I've Been Looking for You" from his current album and the rockabilly shaker "You Belong to Me" from 2015's "Get Up" album, showcased his undiminished ability to fortify the spirit of rock 'n' roll.
Also keeping the beat steady was Jett and her Blackhearts, who spent last summer opening for Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Poison on The Stadium Tour.
Though it was quickly followed by the Runaways favorite, "Cherry Bomb," Jett's statement that she still isn’t finished creating potent four-on-the-floor rockers was duly noted. Throughout the near-hourlong performance, she and the band slammed out three other new tracks, including the ultra-catchy, guitar-centric single, "If You’re Blue" and, to wrap the set, the saloon singalong "Whiskey Goes Good."
But fans yearning to hear her crushed-gravel voice on longtime classics were sated as well.
A diminutive figure in all-black, including her signature shag hair, Jett slashed at her guitar during "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)," loped through the rolling groove of "Fake Friends" and handled a serrated solo on her sizzling cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s original diversity anthem, "Everyday People."
Among the Blackhearts is longtime manager/producer/right hand man Kenny Laguna, who, in addition to playing keyboards and percussion, also acted as narrator as he shared anecdotes in his deep New York accent about the origins of "Fake Friends" (music industry hypocrites) and "Fresh Start" (from Jett's 2018 "Bad Reputation" documentary).
Naturally, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" required no backstory and fans leapt to their feet to shout along with the jukebox staple.
But Jett wasn't going to end on an obvious note. Instead, she and the Blackhearts amped up the volume to storm through "Crimson & Clover" and "I Hate Myself for Loving You," both songs validating that Jett still possesses plenty of bite.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bryan Adams, Joan Jett jolt the pulse of rock 'n' roll at US tour opener2023-06-07T06:43:35Z dg43tfdfdgfd