THERE HAVE BEEN a lot of comebacks recently, some great, some not so. They’ve ranged from the “oh not them again” to the more exciting and following on from a series of smaller gigs from Adam I have to admit that it was with a certain amount or trepidation that I approached this show. When the tour was announced and I found that the nearest show was only a few miles away from where I live in North Essex, and in a caravan park entertainment complex of all things, it seemed that he had gone down the “eighties legend” route and I very nearly passed by on the chance to see him. It was the review from a friend that had seen him play a show earlier in the year that convinced me, his enthusiasm rubbing off I guess.
The one and only time I’ve ever seen him live was supporting Buzzcocks in late ’77 at the Marquee in London, and heading to this one, 34 years later, my only hope was that he wasn’t dreadful.
The venue itself was exactly what you’d expect; a large hall, bar at one end stage at the other; only the first 25 feet or so was taken up by tables… yes, tables, cordoned off by barriers so the rest of us couldn’t get near, and the hall filled with rows of seats behind this. Did they know what to expect, or did they think the small army of balding men and middle aged women, some with stripes painted across their faces and in their Top Shop finest were just going to sit and applaud politely? We stood at the barrier.
Two support acts came and went, both signed to Adam’s label and each fronted by his backing singers, which explains their inclusion in the line up and eventually the moment came when the lights dimmed and the people on the tables in front moved to the front, leaving a 20 foot gap filed with empty tables in front of us. The band walked on, the two drummers taking their place at the back and then, out of nowhere, Adam Ant walks on and they launch into ‘Plastic Surgery’.
From that moment on, the 34 year gap slowly vanishes, it doesn’t matter that the venue set up is more suited to cabaret, he’s still got it, the showman is still there, and he’s lost none of the humour that I remember. From ‘Plastic Surgery’ straight into ‘Dog Eat Dog’ and the frilly shirted housewives behind me enter screech mode, I’d wondered how they’d take the pre-Kings material, but when this is followed by ‘Beat My Guest’ and ‘Kick’ they’re just as happy although slightly quieter. A set covering his entire career follows, and Adam is loving it, with a massive grin on his face and chatting between songs, from “Another number one? Oh go on then” as they launch into ‘Goody Two Shoes’ to wistfully explaining that he’s been away for 16 years, and that the last thing he did was ‘Wonderful’, “A love song, only reached number 28, so I won’t be doing that again”. Little stories about why the US version of Dirk Wears White Socks didn’t have ‘Catholic Day’ on it before playing it, and how he was only allowed to play Live Aid because his manager threatened to pull Sting follow, and he’s having a great time.
For me the highlights were the earlier material, but no matter what period you prefer, if you’ve not seen him recently then get a ticket for one of the upcoming shows now, you won’t regret it. He has a new album due in January and despite the fact that we heard nothing from it, I have a feeling it’s going to be worth the wait.
For the record, here’s the full playlist:
‘Dog Eat Dog’
‘Beat My Guest’
‘Stand and Deliver’
‘Room At The Top’
‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’
‘Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)’
‘Goody Two Shoes’
‘Viva le Rock’
‘Get It On’/’20th Century Boy’
© John Robb, 9 October 2011