Yup, again! For the 5th time in a shade under 2 years, it’s Adam Ant time! The 80’s pop/ punk/ New Romantic/ simply “Antmusic” icon, now arguably elevated to National Treasure status, his shining star restored to sparking radiance, and quite simply the best, most consummate “live” performer I’ve seen in years, and likely one of the best ever. Yup, Ever. There, I said it. I also said I’d be back whenever time and finances allow, so a trip down to Bath to the new Komedia venue was squeezed in to an otherwise impoverished late April. This time, I’m joined by Debbie the glam punk queen of ye olde Swindon Towne, surprisingly seeing Adam Ant for the first time!
We set off at 7 on a sunny evening, getting confused with the directions around Bath and eventually parking up in a small car park, just around the corner from the riverside park where Rach, the kids and myself had spent the previous Saturday sunning ourselves and eating ice cream! Despite needing to ask a policeman for directions (!), the venue itself was a short walk, very central; a modern frontispiece opening up into a grand mid-sized venue with ornate roof carvings, recalling the Regal in Oxford . New Killer Shoes were just finishing a brash, noisy guitar set with a bit of a swagger. From what I heard, they sounded worth checking out. Next time, then…
Took a spot near the front, stage right, for Adam’s entrance in front of an expectant and respectable but not full crowd, spot on at 8.30 to the orchestral swell of “The Charge Of The Light Brigade”. Adam, on last with a theatrical flourish, and his excellent band blasted through opener “Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter”, the lead track from his current CD, scarcely pausing for breath and making scant concession to his advancing years. Indeed, this was the modus operandi for tonight; a rejigged set over recent live shows, with more than a smattering of newies from said just-released new CD. However, “Deutscher Girls” notwithstanding, there was very little of significance omitted from recent sets, so with a whole lot to get through, it was a case of cut the chat and get on with it. This was underlined by the fact Adam didn’t actually address the audience until after a lengthy ovation for “Kings Of The Wild Frontier”, 9th number in!
By this time we’d also had a brilliant amphetamine rush through “Beat My Guest”, a strident tribal drumbeat-led “Kick”, a thrillingly eerie “Ants Invasion” augmented by a side-lit strobe picking out Adam on the otherwise dark stage, and the usual rambunctious run-through of “Stand And Deliver”. But it was “Kings” that really ignited the previously moribund crowd, Adam performing his “manifesto” number as if his life depended on it, with the lengthy ovation giving him pause and eliciting a heartfelt and quite telling, “thank you,” from the great man.
The overall brevity of communication however didn’t detract from Adam’s performance; glittering and eye-catching throughout, he was his usual brilliant self, a performer born, riveting and kinetic, waving the mikestand around so vigorously that on more than one occasion I thought he would sideswipe occasional backing vocalist Georgie Girl upside the head with its’ circular base, and striding and strutting around the stage like he owned it. Which of course he did…
“This one’s about love, you know L-U-V, fellas… flowers on Valentines, flowers when you make up, flowers on her grave…”, Adam deadpanned by way of intro to “Wonderful”, before, “a different kind of love song,” the guitar sleaze of “Whip In My Valise”. The sussed NYC/ Velvet Underground understated cool of “Cool Zombie” was the best of the clutch of newies on show tonight, although as ever Adam hit the highlights with the old stuff; a brilliant staccato “Zerox”, a dark, sinister “Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)”, featuring some call and response vocals with Georgie Girl, rubber dress dripping off her ample front, and the raucous singalong to “Cartrouble”, inserted later into the set tonight. Actually I sang along raucously to pretty much everything tonight…!
After the regimental march of set closer “Prince Charming”, the encores were pretty damn perfect too; a vitriolic “Press Darlings”, Adam still venomously spitting out the names of his nemeses Kent and Bushall, the wonderful, cheeky “Lady” seamlessly segueing into the call to arms of “Fall In”, then a second encore featuring a sleazy, growling and pace-changing “Red Scab”, an unscheduled run through T Rex’ “Get It On”, and a final, roaring “Physical” to end a 30-odd song, near 2 hour performance from a 58 year old whose energy, vitality and sheer star power puts pretty much everyone else right now in the shade. Another brilliant night in the company of Adam Ant, and here’s to many more!