Tonight I went to see Bryan Adams in concert at the Wembley Arena. I had to interrupt my weekly Tuesday edition to share tonight’s feelings. It is just unbelievable how my long term memory is just so much better than any sort of short or medium term memory I will ever have. Songs kept coming, with my brain immediately speaking out the words, most of the times without me even processing what song I was singing. So if you don’t like music, you may want to stop reading now. There is not much about growth on today’s edition, other than growth of the heart and plenty of nostalgia.
This morning, as I proudly held my concert ticket, I faced the inquisitive look of my intern who had no knowledge of who Bryan Adams was. She even added: “my Mum will know”. After I counted to 10 backwards, I and my (older) colleague argued with her that she must most certainly know about Robin Hood and Everything I Do. She had no idea what movie we were talking about. I know I am ageing, but this reached a whole new low. And I wondered about the validity of going to such a concert, surrounded by people like me, who have last seen Bryan Adams potentially more than 15 years ago. And he is 59. I wondered whether my impetus to getting this tickets in the pre-sale was really that smart. But then again, it is Bryan Adams, it can’t go wrong.
Bryan Adams must have been born with the voice to sing at this age. In fact, his voice is unchanged in a way that I did not think possible. Shall I reach 59 in such a shape with Wembley cheering me on I will not be too bad. And the ability to touch different people in unique ways is still there. My friend Sabrina, who went with me to the concert, wondered what will be of this generation, that knows nothing about these musicians. I argued Adele is good, but quickly remember how much Little Girl C sings “Shout out to my Ex” at age 5. I can’t stand it. I quickly make the decision that this weekend’s soundtrack will involve some of my Bryan Adams CDs.
The concert surprised me from the first song. He opened with Ultimate Love, which I knew nothing about, to find out he has a song with a deeper meaning than love. At some point, I find a competing quote of the week for my newsletter: Everybody wants a quick solution. Step right up and make a contribution. I started noticing all the effects happening on stage that were not there before when I attended his concert in Lisbon, over 15 years ago. The power of technology, internet, streaming and phones. He even took a picture of the audience when he arrived. Seriously. He did the concert with a phone in his pocket. I am not sure about what I feel about that and all that we say about mindfulness and being present!
Not risking a lack of engagement, he quickly goes to a classic with Can’t Stop this thing we started. And then the concert goes, for 2 solid hours, remembering all the years. Sabrina did not believe me when I said I would not leave without hearing the Summer of 69, but it did not take long for the electric guitar to get me off my feet at the sound of it. I could not resist making a movie to share with my girlfriends from school. Those were the best days of our life we say, but were they really? I like they think they are now.
As my heart relives the love it has in it at the sound of Heaven, Run to You and Everything I do, I do struggle to find songs like this on today’s repertoire. I blame it on my lack of bothering putting music on (other than children songs) but I know that the words “don’t tell me, it’s not worth fighting for” were indeed meant and felt by thousands of people of our generation, despite also having been a major movie soundtrack. As we all need Somebody and It’s Only Love, the concert is non-stop and I have no regrets about having had no dinner. After 90 minutes of a solid concert, I know it can’t last that much longer. At some point, he goes on taking requests from the audience. I struggle to remember what he is missing from the list. I knew 90% of the songs going on and assume the rest are those albums that I missed. And I make the decision that I am buying his newest album straight away – this time maybe on iTunes!
And then he goes on to say “still feels like our first night together” and I know there is so much more that can come if I suddenly forgot that Bryan Adams sings Please Forgive Me. We are soon jumping again at the sound of 18 till I die, and I know he could not guess how true this song would be when he sings that one day he’ll be 18 going on 65. The energy is exhilarating and you wonder how Keith Scott can keep at it in the electric guitar as they go on to sing The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You. In a moment of silence you hear “driving home this evening, I could have sworn we had it all worked out, you had this boy believing, way beyond a shadow of a doubt“. The words are coming out and it is not until the drums hit that I know I am singing Cuts Like a Knife, again not having thought of this song for more years than I can count.
By the time we get to Straight From the Heart Sabrina is amazed about how I know so many songs. Part is to do with my musical memory for any sort of lyrics (even the low-quality ones) but the other part is how much I lived these songs. I told her about Oceano Pacifico, the Portuguese radio program that still today plays on the radio from 10pm in the evening and plays only ballads. My Mum used to listen to this station and me with her. It still goes on today. The different thing vs many countries was that in fact, in Portugal, the radio we listened to played mostly English language songs – so we got all the pop and rock culture when it was happening.
The concert is finishing, I can tell. I missed burning my fingers on a lighter at the sound of all these ballads, but he has moved on with time. He asks Wembley Arena to put their phone lights on, and on we go to sing All for Love.