Bryan Adams on Getting Reckless at the Royal Albert Hall, the Trudeau Government’s Treatment of Canadian Artists and Finally Managing His Own Career

Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams recently spoke with Zoomer ahead of his upcoming residency at the Royal Albert Hall – a follow-up to the successful trio of classic album live shows he performed at the same historic London venue in 2022. Photo: Courtesy of BMG

London calling … again!

Bryan Adams is heading back across the pond to perform a trio of his classic albums live during a residency at the Royal Albert Hall this spring. 

The Canadian music legend, 64, already performed the feat once, in 2022, when he rocked Cuts Like A Knife, Into The Fire and Waking up The Neighbours in their entirety on three consecutive nights at the historic venue. 

The resulting live concert boxed set, Live at The Royal Albert Hall, dropped last year, and a concert film of the event recently made its Canadian premiere on VisionTV (a ZoomerMedia property).

In May, Adams returns to the Royal Albert Hall to perform three different classic albums: Reckless (1984), 18 til I Die (1996) and So Happy It Hurts (2022). The residency (May 13-15) comes amidst a sprawling tour that, this year alone, brings him from the U.S., across Europe, back to Canada and then over to Europe again.

Adams, who is also a celebrated photographer, remains a frequent contributor to Zoomer, which started back when he shot Wayne Gretzky for the magazine’s inaugural 2008 cover. In the ensuing years his exclusive photos of luminaries like the Queen and Prince Philip, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Tony Bennett and Gordon Lightfoot, among many others, have graced subsequent covers, as well as a recent retrospective of his photography for the magazine to celebrate Zoomer‘s 15th anniversary.

Ahead of Adams’ shows at the Royal Albert Hall – for which one lucky VisionTV viewer won a trip for two to London courtesy of Collette, to attend live – the rocker answered an email Q&A from Zoomer‘s Editor-in-Chief and publisher Suzanne Boyd.


SUZANNE BOYD: What was your inspiration for performing your classic albums live, in their entirety, and why did you choose to include Waking Up the Neighbours among the first three albums you performed?

BRYAN ADAMS: I had done full albums in the past, but only once in Cardiff years ago for a Reckless anniversary and it went over well, so when the talk was to go and do a residency at the Royal Albert Hall [in London], I thought it would be a good idea to present ourselves in an original way and record and film the shows as well.  By the way, it is the 40th anniversary of the Reckless album this year and we are back again to record three more albums in May.


SB: Waking Up the Neighbours was your first studio album that was recorded, in part, in London. So to revisit the album at the Royal Albert Hall more than 30 years later must feel like something of a homecoming for it. What do you remember about those original recording sessions in London and first bringing these songs to life?

BA: I remember being quite cold most of the time, as we were recording in Willesden, North London, and I was driving a canvas-top 1964 Land Rover to the studio everyday with limited heating. That, and eating take-away stuffed peppers from Marks & Spencer. Seriously though, they were incredible recording sessions and I was making an album with Mutt Lange, who I still work with today. We spent over a year together writing that album. And, looking back, Keith [Scott] and I consider our time on that album as graduating from the university of rock! (Keith plays guitar with me.)


SB: In a 2022 interview with Zoomer about re-recording your classic hits, you noted that “I am nostalgic to the music because it’s a big part of my life.” What feelings, then, does it elicit when you revisit an entire classic album live and see fans react to the music all over again?

BA: It is a good feeling for sure. The thing to remember is when writing an album, it is all about the writer and the relationship to the music, not anyone else. That changes the moment it goes into the world; that is when it is our music. Music can define a time in our lives and this is the thing about concerts and why it works so well. Everyone gets to huddle in and share, whether it is memories or just being in the moment.  It is a shared experience that started as a solo one.


SB: Performing an entire classic album live is such a contrast to a traditional concert, where you’re mostly performing hits from multiple albums. What unique challenges, or perhaps joys, does a classic album concert bring as opposed to a traditional concert?

BA: A lot more work that’s for sure. It’s not easy remembering all the words and chords to songs you’ve not played in years, or ever. It all works out thanks to the rehearsals. We are going to rehearse like crazy for the May concerts. 

Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams on stage during his first Royal Albert Hall residency in May 2022. Photo: BMG/VisionTV


SB: Waking Up the Neighbours produced numerous hits including the massive Grammy-winning (Everything I Do) I Do It for You. But, as for the songs on the album that weren’t singles and perhaps aren’t usually on your traditional concert set list, which of those proved a thrill to perform live for this show? 

BA: They all seemed to have their own thing and that is, of course, enhanced by the audience, who thankfully knew every word. I think at one point I actually spaced out and was watching someone singing with me and thankfully they knew the words, because I’ve had moments like that before where I’ve watched someone and then started singing complete gobbledygook for a line or two until I got myself together. The beauty of live shows!


SB: The Royal Albert Hall boasts such a storied history, both as a venue and because of the artists who’ve performed there. What made you choose it as a venue for these concerts and your upcoming May residency? 

BA: It was offered to me by the promoter as an idea, and I liked it as a change to the larger venues we’d played in the past. It’s intimate and has a special feel to it. The first time I played there was on my own, acoustically, on my “Bare Bones” tour. There is a video on YouTube of All For Love from that night. I think that is where it really comes into its own. That’s why the London Symphony Orchestra records so many concerts there.


SB: You have such a deep body of work with a lot of bench strength, so to speak. How did you choose the albums you performed at the Royal Albert Hall and the ones for your upcoming May residency?

BA: I’m not sure, I think we drew straws. Interestingly, it was the 40th anniversary of Cuts Like A Knife last year, so we were able to commemorate it with the release of some videos and this year is the 40th anniversary of Reckless, so we will be doing the same and releasing videos from it. I love that.


SB: Can we look forward to another concert film, and perhaps even some sort of “behind the scenes” or “making of” doc?

BA: Well, now that you mention it, yes, the plan is more BTS, backstage and making-of. I was actually thinking to make one film of the three nights, instead of three albums, but I have not made up my mind on that yet.


SB: Does re-recording your classic songs, as well as doing this classic album live series, make you reflect on how much the music industry has changed since you started out?

BA: The music industry is unrecognizable from when I started. There are new avenues popping up all the time and I liken it to the wild west. So, you have to be a bit of a gunslinger to get through it. Whereas before, all you needed was a little chutzpah and a bit of payola – ha,ha. 


SB: Taylor Swift asked you to duet with her on your classic banger Summer of  ’69 during the Toronto leg of her Reputation tour. She has been such a catalyst for artist empowerment from a generational point of view. Did you guys discuss the industry then and now?

BA: There wasn’t time. We only worked on the song for her show. However, I’m grateful to her, because the way she stood up for her rights was a big reason why I started doing my re-recordings. That’s what I mean about being a gunslinger. In today’s industry you can write your own rules, because you pay for it either way, so it might as well be your way.


SB: In that vein, you have parted ways with your longtime manager. Have you hired new representation, or can you confirm that you will be self-managing?

BA: Yes, for the moment I’m taking care of things. I was expecting an exodus when I left my management, but it was the opposite. My booking agents called me almost immediately and offered solidarity, followed by my crew and band. It was hugely reassuring, because there was a lot untangling from a business I’d been so loyal to for so long. Trust is everything.


SB: What does this feel like and does this change how you will approach your career going forward? For instance, how will you interface with the music industry?

BA: I’ve never thought about myself having to interface, I’ve only ever thought about making songs. I mean, I’ve always been in the music business not the business of music, but now I’m thinking of starting my own label and rolling up my sleeves.


SB: What about your campaign to change the Canadian copyright laws. What is the issue and where does it stand?

BA: Sadly the Trudeau government is not interested in giving their standing ovations to their own artistic community. I managed to get every major Canadian songwriter and some book writers to sign a petition to ask the Canadian government for a change in copyright law to help Canadian creators. In a nutshell, the issue is that under Canadian copyrights, creators who have granted rights in their work generally don’t get a reversion of those rights until 25 years after death.  Canadian creators should have the same deal as American creators, which is a right of reversion 35 years after assignment. This would have helped creators as well as their families and their inheritances, including in situations where the person that the rights were granted to, is no longer using them.  Or where the artist who was just starting out, or who has been taken advantage of, has made a bad deal. Maybe the next government will consider it. Bring on that election!


SB: Creativity and music has always been your north star and you continue to be incredibly prolific in writing and recording new songs, winning a Juno and garnering a Grammy nomination to add to your long list of accolades just in the last couple of years. This week you released another new song, Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son. Could you tell us about how it came about and the process of writing and recording it, as well as shooting the video?

BA: As you know I love taking photographs and making video. This project started as a result of my book, Homeless,” that was a series of portraits of men and women from the streets of London who have been helped by the Big Issue magazine. During an exhibition of the photos I met Lorna Tucker, who is a director, and she told of this biopic she was making on homelessness. After hearing about it, I offered to write her a song. 


SB: One of the most prestigious gigs in photography is landing the Pirelli calendar. You themed and titled the 2022 edition you photographed “On The Road.” You tour so consistently, the road seems to be your natural habitat. When and where will Canadian fans get to see you next?