Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Aging Rock Stars


Earlier this month, Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen took to the stage in Toronto during the Invictus Games. A video of them performing together showed up on YouTube:

Many people would say that this was an unlikely duo, but they did manage to offer performances of Adams’ “Cuts Like a Knife”, and Springsteen’s “Badlands.” I tried to be objective while listening to both songs, but it was very difficult. I really wanted to like Springsteen’s performance on both songs, but that simply wasn’t possible. While it’s impossible to know for sure, I strongly suspected that Adams moved to sing with Springsteen on Springsteen’s mic because it seemed like whoever was manning the sound booth was turning down the Boss. Honestly, if I’d been there, I probably would have done the same.

Like it or not, Adams – particularly his singing voice – aged well in comparison. While his tone has changed some, he’s still capable of hitting the notes accurately. Springsteen is not faring as well. He definitely can still make his way through his own music, but he was definitely not up to the task of singing “Cuts Like a Knife.” Adams was able to shift from lead to background singer easily on “Badlands,” though.

Since I started out in the world of rock and pop music by being a DJ in a family business that specialized in music from the 50’s and 60’s, I’m accustomed to listening for changes in tone and quality of voices over time. I would regularly shift from playing original records by artists, and hearing them perform live up to over thirty years later, like this performance. I would love to say that the Boss still has it, but I can’t. That said, it would be wise to see him soon, because, assuming that people around him are honest, he may seriously consider not performing. It’s worth noting that Adams was the one who shared this video, not Springsteen.

No matter what, Springsteen will remain the Boss. Hopefully he won’t try to go beyond his own repertoire again, though.