`THE kids wanna rock'' is a phrase that has done very well for Canadian rock singer Bryan Adams, and at his recent concert in Madison Square Garden it was true enough. His only United States concert date until this summer, the sell-out show brought out 18,000 kids, most of them teen-age girls, it seemed, who definitely did want to rock.
Quietly, without a lot of fanfare or hoopla, Adams has become one of the biggest-selling singers in the world. His single ``(Everything I Do) I Do It for You'' sold 15 million copies. His popularity is international; he recently performed to thousands of fans in, of all places, Vietnam.
The object of this attention is an unassuming, ordinary albeit good-looking youngish man with a raspy, unremarkable voice.
His music, a mixture of ballads and straightforward rockers, is similar in style and execution to Bruce Springsteen's or John Mellencamp's, but he lacks those singer-songwriter's gifts for sophistication in both melody and lyrics. Yet somehow he has tapped into the teen-age Zeitgeist, and it's hard to argue with his kind of success.
At the Garden, he provided two solid hours of playing that had his fans on their feet for the whole time.
If the banality of the material was more apparent when the hits were played one after the other, as opposed to hearing them separately on the radio, what was also apparent was his gift for the pop hook. ``Cuts Like a Knife,'' ``Run to You,'' ``Summer of '69'' - there is no denying the catchiness in these well-crafted songs.
Performing with a solid four-piece band and a lack of razzmatazz or special effects, he went through his hits with precision. Toward the show's end, he endeared himself even more to the crowd by playing a whole set of songs, mostly old rock chestnuts, from a platform toward the rear of the auditorium, enabling those in the back to get a close-up view. Singing ``C'mon Everybody,'' the audience took him literally, with nearly a dozen girls crowding onto the tiny stage to dance along.
A further treat was provided, one that could only happen in a city like New York. Sting, who happened to be performing the same night at the Paramount Theatre next door, showed up to sing with Adams on their current hit ``All for One,'' the theme from ``The Three Musketeers'' (the other singer on the cut, Rod Stewart, was not in attendance).
The crowd went predictably wild, and Sting, after dutifully helping out by singing one of the more banal singles of his career, waved a sheepish goodbye and exited. The audience, exhausted from happiness, filed toward the exits.