It was a full 10 minutes into his first concert in Israel before Bryan Adams hollered out the unfailing “Shalom, Tel Aviv” at the audience in the coastal city, to rip-roaring cheers.
“My name is Bryan,” he told the crowd of thousands of Israeli concert-goers who know his name is Bryan.
In the sold-out Nokia stadium, some of the overtly diehard fans were staking out the front rows. A fired-up woman in a rhinestone skirt proudly brandished a red banner reading “Bryan, you’re my ultimate love.” Two rows ahead, another woman held up a handwritten sign that said: “We ❤ U, straight from the heart.”
“I don’t know how much time you have. You have to work in the morning,” the throaty Canadian singer continued, addressing the mostly over 30 crowd. “But we’ve got a lot of songs.” (Adams was set to play another show Tuesday in Tel Aviv and Wednesday in Jerusalem.)
“Shall I keep going, or shall I stop?” he teased the audience, an hour and a quarter in.
The answer: A resounding, thunderous yes.
Over the nearly two-hour show, Adams drove home the nostalgia with the “Summer of ’69” and offered an aesthetically stunning rendition of “Heaven” which saw stars projected on a screen in the darkened hall, and the reflections of hundreds of smartphone screens creating an unintended celestial effect.
He extracted emphatic hand gestures from the concert-goers while crooning “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.” And Adams ended with a tribute to his Jewish co-songwriter and composer Michael Kamen, who died in 2003, asking the audience to light up their phones and raise them in his memory.
“Michael was a Jewish fella, and I know if I told him that I was playing in Israel he would have wanted to be here tonight,” said Adams, before launching into “All for Love.”
Above all, the 58-year-old singer (he was only 9 years old in that famous summer of ’69) put on an electric and remarkably youthful show, with neither vocals or energy faltering as he bounded about the stage, jumping with his guitar, kicking, raising his voice in his rocker’s rasp, or flinging a harmonica to the back of the stage.
“Tazizu et hatachat!” he yelled out, after receiving help from the audience with how to say “Move your ass” in Hebrew.
Mixing his old songs with his new album, Adams brought the crowd to its feet with hits like “Cuts Like a Knife,” “Straight From the Heart,” “18 Till I Die,” and “Cloud Number 9” popular in the mid-1980s and 90s, along with his new songs, like “Get Up,” “Please Stay” and “Go Down Rockin’.”
At times, it appeared the crowd couldn’t quite keep up to Adams’ liking.
“Can you hear me in the front row?” he asked, early on in the show. “I see a lot of people talking and I’m thinking it’s not loud enough.”
During other moments, notably during his old-time favorites, there was scarcely a person in the house that wasn’t on their feet, waving their arms with abandon or clamoring to film.
Some of Adams’ lyrics for eternal youth took on particular resonance during his energetic display.
“Wanna be young, the rest of my life. Never say no, try anything twice. Till the angels come, and ask me to fly. Gonna be 18 till I die, 18 till I die,” he sang, tweaking the chorus from “Someday I’ll be 18 going on 55” to 65.
“If I’m gonna go down, I’m gonna go down rockin’” he sang, turning to his 2015 album, “Get Up.”
“I ain’t gonna slow down, I’m gonna go down rockin.”