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Former Islander keeps pace with rocker Bryan Adams; sold-out concert on Saturday in Victoria

Former Vancouver Islander, who has been Adams’ drummer off and on since 1985, loves playing with the hard-charging Canadian legend
Pat Steward, the former Vancouver Islander who is on tour with Bryan Adams, manned the drum kit on Summer of ‘69. SIMON AGER

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard St.
Tickets: Sold out

Pat Steward has been on the road for the better part of two full years, manning the drumkit for Bryan Adams as the Cuts Like a Knife hitmaker brings his music to the masses.

Steward feels like he could do another 22 years, considering how well the tour has been going.

“For the last 15 years, he’s just sort of always going,” Steward said of the hard-charging Adams, who is among the most successful artists in Canadian history. “That’s just who he is. And he brings it every night.”

Steward has done 148 concerts with Adams since Nov. 10, 2021, when the former Vancouver Islander played drums for the singer-songwriter at his six-show residency at the Encore Theater in Las Vegas. The happy-go-lucky drummer will play show No. 149 in Victoria on Saturday, when the second leg of Adams’s So Happy it Hurts tour kicks off at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

The concert sold out long ago, which isn’t surprising. Adams has remained a strong concert draw throughout his professional career, which dates back more than 40 years.

“It’s the same now as it was in 1985,” Steward said.

“In Canada, all those big hockey arenas, like the Bell Centre in Montreal, which is the biggest arena in the NHL, they’re all sold out. And it’s like that in Europe and the U.K., too. It’s all massive.”

Steward was there at the beginning, when Adams began his ascent. He played drums on parts of 1984’s Reckless, including the hits One Night Love Affair, Kids Wanna Rock and Summer of ’69, and spent nearly two years on the road with Adams and his band, which still includes longtime guitarist Keith Scott, following the record’s release.

Steward played countless high-profile shows with Adams during that time, including two performances in 1985 — at Live Aid in Philadelphia, and as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live — that remain career highlights. Steward was replaced on drums in 1986, but was re-hired by Adams in fits and starts in the years that followed.

He played drums on some demo recordings that would later be reshaped for 1992’s Waking Up the Neighbours, and played on seven songs that wound up on 11, the 2008 album from Adams.

Steward, who lived in Parksville with his family during high school, and later taught at the former Malaspina College in Nanaimo, was stationed in Qualicum Beach and travelling between Vancouver and Vancouver Island when he got the session call for 11. He relocated to the mainland soon after, and has remained in Vancouver ever since.

He’s still a core member of six-time Juno Award nominees the Odds, who he’s been with since 1994. But for the time being, Adams gets his undivided attention. And that means shows, shows, and more shows.

“It’s a different time now. It’s not like you make a record and the record has a six- to-18 month lifespan. It’s just sort of always going.”

Even when they are booked for three or four consecutive concerts — it’s at that point where reflexes slow, and voices begin to wear out — Adams never falters. It’s why he remains among the top concert draws worldwide.

“My mind is still being blown every night,” Steward said with a laugh.

Adams has the reputation of being a stern leader, but Steward has found him to be nothing but supportive. When the band was booked to perform on Steward’s 60th birthday, Adams felt bad for the drummer.

“He was sweet. He apologized. He goes, ‘Man, I’m so sorry that you’re here doing this on your birthday.’ Sure, it’s a milestone birthday, but I told him if I can’t be at home, there’s nothing else I would rather be doing than playing these really, really good songs.”

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