Bryan Adams Brings Power Rock, Sweet Ballads, and Gratitude to PPG Paints Arena Concert

Bryan Adams during the So Happy It Hurts Tour 2022 at the Hallenstadion in Zurich. (Photo: Luigi936 / Wikipedia)

Bryan Adams seen here earlier in his So Happy It Hurts Tour in 2022 at the Hallenstadion in Zurich. (Photo: Luigi936 / Wikipedia)

Two songs played early on in the Bryan Adams concert at PPG Paints Arena would very well define the night: ”Kick Ass” and “18 till I Die.” Adams did kick ass on the seemingly endless string of hit rock songs played during the show. And he played and sounded like he was still 18 years-old. In juxtaposition to his rock set, his legendary ballads were as sweet and beautiful as ever, too.

Several of the reasons for Adam’s long stretch of popularity is his ability to craft hard rock songs with insightful lyrics and melodic vocals. His slightly gravelly voice serves him well, whether singing power rock songs or softer ballads. For most of the rock songs, Adams, dressed initially in jeans, a t-shirt, sneakers, and a black leather jacket, played an unusual looking Gibson for his guitar parts. I asked my guitar playing friend who attended the show with me what type of Gibson it was; he said it is a Gibson ES-29 hollow body guitar. Adams played both the majority of his rhythm and lead parts on it. And for acoustic, Doug said, he played a Martin D-18 Dreadnought.

Another reason for Adams success is that he surrounds himself with top-notch musicians and gives them their turn in the limelight, especially lead guitarist Keith Scott. Scott has been performing with Adams since 1976. His Fender Stratocaster burned down the house on several of their power rock songs. He was even seen doing a little shredding technique on his guitar. He also played a Les Paul on a few songs and utilized both his wah wah pedal and whammy bar at different points in the show.

Adams truly got the party going three songs in with “Somebody” and its deliciously crunchy lead guitar riffs and powerful drumming by Pat Steward. A few songs later Bryan performed one of his top ballads, “Heaven.” Other top ballads included “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” which was accentuated with some beautiful piano by Gary Breit; “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” saw Scott performing on an electric classical guitar for a Spanish sounding feel; the final song of the two song encore set was “All for Love” that Adams had originally written and performed with Rod Stewart and Sting.

For the newer song “So Happy It Hurts” from the 2022 album of the same name, an “inflatable” classic sports car, powered by drones, floated above the audience. It had So Happy It Hurts written on its sides. The album reached no. 26 on the Billboard Top U.S. Albums chart. Adams and the band granted two audience request songs. One was “One Night Love Affair” (great choice!) and Star.” “Star” was requested, Adams said, by Rhonda from Buffalo who was holding up a sign asking for it. He said the song is a little obscure, but they would try and play it for her. He further said the song was one that he wrote for the Robin Williams’ movie Jack. Adams and band performed “Star” thus giving Rhonda a very happy return trip to Buffalo. Adams dedicated the song to the late actor and comedian.

Not a request song, but one that this reviewer was happy to see added to the most recent setlists is “This Time,” a big radio hit with strong guitar, vocals, and drums. One of the biggest barnburners of the evening was “Run to You” which saw Adams, playing a Stratocaster, and Scott both trading lead guitar riffs on the center stage extension in the middle of the audience. A little over halfway through the song they both rested for a few beats and then resumed play for an explosive crescendo with guitar, drums, and good bottom notes from Solomon Walker on the bass. After that was a song the audience recognized immediately with the distinctive guitar strum intro, “Summer of ‘69.” The crowd sang the opening lyrics to it and were loving every minute of it. The set ended with another crowd favorite, “Cuts Like a Knife.”


Speaking with the audience, Adams emphasized his gratefulness to his mom and dad. He dedicated the song “Shine a Light” to his late father. Adams said about his mother, “She is 96 years-old and was on the video screen tonight. She gave me a chance at 15 to drop out of school to perform.” He added that she also gave him $1,000 early on in his career to further him along. Adams then dedicated the first song of the encore, “Straight From the Heart” to her. During the show he also thanked the late Tina Turner and  dedicated “It’s Only Love” to her, explaining that she took a young Bryan Adams on tour with her which further increased his popularity.

One of the first proper gigs in his career he said was here in Pittsburgh opening for The Kinks. He recalled at another early show early in his career a guy in the front row yelling out loud to him, “Who the fuck are you?” Adams said he pointed to the bass drum kit with Bryan Adams on it and said, “I’m Bryan.” 

Adams and the PPG Crowd were having more than a one night love affair; they were having a long term relationship built on mutual gratitude, respect, and the shared interest of great music. Upon leaving the stage Adams threw guitar picks out to the audience and Steward tossed out a few drum sticks, too. The concert featured 27 songs and ran for almost two hours. Bryan Adams is still very much alive and kicking.

Dave Stewart and His Eurythmics were the opening act and were in fantastic fashion, Stewart displayed his guitar prowess as he performed with his very skilled all-female band. They played a very popular one hour set of Eurythmic songs including “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “Would I Lie To You,” “Missionary Man,” “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves,” and the closer, “Sweet Dreams.”

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.

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