Adam Ant

Bloomsbury Theatre, London on Monday 24 September 2007

After Police and Madness, another 80’s comeback manifests itself in “An Intimate Evening with Adam Ant” at the lovely Bloomsbury Theatre in London. But this is a pretty special one - Adam Ant bridged the gap between punk and the New Romantics, made the genre of music video exciting, glamorous and sexy and inspired fanatical devotion amongst his legions of antpeople which seemingly hasn’t faded over the years.

"Adam, when he emerges to a standing ovation, is looking fit and trim, dressed all in black with a skinny fit top, bandana and trilby hat. He’s energetic and completely on form and looks like he’s been working out."
I absolutely adored him - he was my first love, my musical awakening and the first proper gig that I went to at the age of 13 (which still rates as one of the most electrifying performances I’ve ever experienced). It’s also a special night as it’s his first live show for 11 years. Sadly, whenever he’s been mentioned in the press in recent years it’s been rather disparaging comments on his mental health, sensationalist stories or unflattering photos. I must admit I’m a bit apprehensive about how he’ll look, if he might be shuffling and bloated, whether he’ll be together mentally, if he can still sing?

I’m extremely excited to get in to the gig in the first place as it sold out before it was even announced and even more delighted to see that Adam, when he emerges to a standing ovation, is looking fit and trim, dressed all in black with a skinny fit top, bandana and trilby hat. He’s energetic and completely on form and looks like he’s been working out or maybe even had “some work done”, but then he always did have good skin and beautiful bone structure!

He’s also looking considerably younger than his 52 years. An old school friend accompanies him on guitar - Dave Pash, who apparently Adam used to copy Latin homework from but in return protected him from the gym teacher. Dave is an accomplished classical guitarist and has modified his guitar and added effects to attempt to replicate the Ants tonight. He does a splendid job, helped by background vocals and yodelling from the audience, and the stripped back songs are absolutely enthralling.

This evening has been put on to promote the release of the paperback version of Adam’s autobiography ‘Stand & Deliver’ and rumour has it that Adam will be reading extracts from the book and perhaps singing about six songs over the course of an hour and 20 minutes. Blissfully, it turns out to be a two hour set, with no interval, and he plays 13 songs.

For the readings, Adam stands behind a podium and uses printed notes but is more animated and absorbing when he stops, laughs and then goes off on a tangent with an ad-libbed anecdote. We hear about his childhood and schooldays; his mention of a red Dansette record player that his parents had brings back memories of the one I inherited and used to play Adam Ant records on over and over; it’s a wonder that the rest of the family stayed sane. We hear about the run-ins with Teddy Boys, the first Sex Pistols gig when they were supporting the band Adam was in called Bazooka Joe, and were greeted by silence from the students at St Martin’s College of Art, and we learn that Siouxsie Sioux caught hepatitis from someone spitting in her mouth at one of her gigs. Adam, once he’s relaxed a bit, is actually very entertaining and funny and steps back from the mic often to illustrate or act a point out and puts on different voices to much laughter.

In between reading he moves to the middle mic and plays songs stretching back to his early punk days and ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’. He definitely can still sing, as well as yodel and yelp, and I can’t tell you how exhilarating it is to hear ‘Young Parisians’, ‘Never Trust a Man (with Egg on His Face)’, ‘Cartrouble’ and ‘Cleopatra’, which Adam describes as their dirtiest song. Thank goodness there were no “Parental Advisory” stickers back then or I’d have never been allowed to buy ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ (it’s too late to check the lyrics now Dad!). For those that only remember his more mainstream, poppier stuff, it’s worth checking out his early work. ‘Plastic Surgery’ is punk genius and ‘Physical’ is still one of my all time favourite songs.

Adam also plays his hits ‘Antmusic’ and ‘Stand and Deliver’, his melodic love song ‘Wonderful’, the sexy ‘Desperate but Not Serious’ (ooh, his voice does still have the goosebump effect) and ‘Vive Le Rock’. He sings a couple of covers – Perry Como’s ‘Catch A Falling Star’ and Matt Monro’s ‘Softly As I Leave You’. During the songs he dances around the stage and does his little cross-unwind spins and captivating poses as if he’s still twenty-something. He receives a long standing ovation at the end of the set, as he had at the beginning, and looks quite moved. The fans who have flown in from America and Australia for this one off gig get an acknowledgement and heartfelt thanks.

The crowd won’t leave and Adam comes back for a second encore and has to reprise ‘Never Trust A Man’ as they haven’t rehearsed any more songs. The audience sing along with every word.

It is clear that tonight is a momentous occasion for Adam and his proud antpeople - hopefully the warmth of response will inspire and encourage him to do much more.

Set list:

The Young Parisians
Never Trust A Man (With Egg on His Face)
Catch A Falling Star - Perry Como cover
Softly As I Leave You - Matt Monro cover
Dog Eat Dog
Stand and Deliver
Desperate But Not Serious
Vive Le Rock
Goody Two Shoes
Never Trust A Man (With Egg on His Face)

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article by: Helen OSullivan

published: 27/09/2007 16:58

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