IT IS WITH some horror that one realises that Bryan Adams had chosen to call his current LP Reckless. Implied tributes to Go-Discs’ second most feted recording artiste apart, Bryan Adams is about as reckless as riding a bicycle down a cycle path.
His mind is so free of devil-may-care attitudes and sparks of originality that one could show him something mildly peculiar, say a newspaper held upside-down, and Bryan’s eyes would widen in horror, his head would burst and his brains would be scattered to the four winds.
Bryan is dealing in good old diluted heavy metal, popped-up rock of the most vapid kind. Near-beer, my flatmate called it, and dammit he was right, for if ever a glass of shandy played a gig, then ’twas tonight. Not one song had the slightest pretension to originality; not one song failed in its avowed mission to muffle through great clichés of rock; and not one opportunity was missed to play a numbingly dull guitar solo, clench a fist, or make a spectacularly inane comment. “Last time we played London, we were at a place called The Dominion,” announced Bryan. “Some of you may have been there. Some of you may not have.”
Honestly, you could have quite easily laughed this man off (well, slept him off, anyway) if he was playing The Marquee or the local pub but, oh I tragedy, he was at the Hammersmith Odeon and he filled it to bursting. Millions of bloody people, waving their hands in the air and shouting; people glad to sing the chorus during the bit where Bryan lets the audience sing the chorus. (The song in question was called, naturally, ‘The Kids Wanna Rock’. Had they called it ‘The Kids Want Their Heads Felt’, I would have been happier.)
I sat dumbfounded; I thought people wanted Nik Kershaw; I thought money was short and people were being selective in their purchases. But no. When Boy George said war was stupid and people were stupid, it seems he meant that war had the upper hand in the brains department.
Why? Why is this man so popular? I can understand the appeal of a polite little tune like ‘Cuts Like A Knife’ or ‘Run To You’; stodgy, mildly catchy, airwave-filler that’s hardly going to change the face of Western culture but is, at least, inoffensive and fills a few minutes. But crap like this — rocking cliché of the worst sort. These people must have most of the records that Adams’ drivel was nicked from in the first place — surely they can’t want any more? Obviously they do. Obviously the world has an insatiable appetite for more of the same. For these people, punk never happened, soul never happened, U2 and Simple Minds never happened; for all I know. World War Two, the invention of the internal combustion engine and votes for women never happened either.
After tonight, I will never again laugh at The Psychedelic Furs. I will never worry about Bono Vox being post-punk brain-candy for closet rockers. I will never question people who say that rock is meaningless, or people who say that jazz-funk is the life-blood of a nation. Bryan Adams has taken the fight out of me, defused all my arguments by his mere crass existence.
From now on I will shave my head, talk only in medieval church Latin, and I will be easily contacted by messages left with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. For I am going to devote the rest of my life to hunting down Bryan Adams’ LPs. Only when I have destroyed them all will I again feel secure in discussing the merits of the new Captains Of Industry album, the delights of Pete Shelley, the frivolous joys of David Essex films, and anything else that tonight’s concert has caused me to lose faith in.
Until the next moronic chart-busting prat comes along to vomit over pop music, that is.
© David Quantick, New Musical Express, 4 May 1985