Adam Ant 9 4 2015 by Stephen McCathie

 

Adam Ant 

The Engine Rooms, Southampton

9th April 2015

Adam takes his Dirk Wears White Sox show around the country. Ged Babey was at the Southampton show. Photo, above, © Steve Little-Triggers.

There’s no way I can get anywhere near the perfection of Simon Price’s review here so I will just ramble on excitedly…

“We Love You Adam!” (“I love you too daa-arlin'” he replied.)

“Well, he certainly hasn’t lost it…”

“He is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest performer I have ever seen.”

“Blown away, just blown away, that was fookin’ amaaazing.”

The reactions were pretty unanimous. That was a phenomenal gig. Nearly two hours of Antmusic for Sex People (and only one ‘hit’ from the white-stripe-across the nose days.) It really is hard to believe Adam is sixty. And his band are extremely good.

Southampton has been starved of really good gigs of late. The new Engine Rooms, despite resembling a small aircraft hangar, looks like it’s gonna turn things around though with Julian Cope, Wire, Babes In Toyland… proper bands lined up instead of just kiddy-emo.

I’ve resisted seeing Adam live over the past few years as I didn’t want to be disappointed. His early stuff up to and including Dirk Wears White Sox meant everything to me.

Whilst a schoolkid I was at the infamous 1978 Salisbury Tech College gig  and was knocked unconscious by a Hells Angel wielding a bottle. I still have the lump on my head to this day. Bizarrely, though, the songs I heard prior to pogo-ing on an Angels toes in my “silly Cuban Heels” have stayed with me.  Lady, Physical, Whip In My Valise I not only associate with pure sex but total violence and the ultimate in rock and roll.

Vague fanzine started in Salisbury too. I had all the early issues and would voraciously read Tom Vagues tales of being a Soldier Ant on the road.

Dirk Wears White Sox was, to me, the defining album of the post-punk era and the gateway album to positive punk ‘n’ Goth. It is probably the album I’ve played more than any other. The 2015 line-up of the Ant band replicate Dirk to perfection.

A couple of songs in I had one of those road to Damascus revelations (which to most people is probably the bleedin’ obvious); I noticed that a large proportion of the audience were singing along or mouthing every single word or at least nodding and noting every time change and nuance of every song.  We ALL know Dirk off by heart. It means so much to a lot of people. (I thought it was just me and Tony and John, y’know a select few…. but it’s a select many. That said, this was one of the few dates on the tour that was not completely sold out.)

I’m not even going to mention the appalling support band because I didn’t catch their name. They did, however, do covers of Prince’s Sign O’ the Times in a clunky MOR Metal style and a version of the Police’s abomination ‘Wanking On A Spoon’ as I’m told it was re-named in the playgrounds of Southampton.

The second half of the set was absolutely sublime. Ridiculously perfect. From Plastic Surgery to You’re So Physical it was the pervy-sex Ants album that never was (if you don’t count the Bootlegs and disc 1 of Antbox). The only thing that could’ve made it any better would have been Jordan appearing to screech through Lou.

Personally, I can’t understand why Adam would want to re-visit Kings of the Wild Frontier when there is a double album of the early stuff just begging to be re-recorded by this shit-hot band. He was so prolific back then. From the Syd-Barrettesque Punk In the Supermarket to the pitch-black-humour of Dirk Wears White Sox (the song about concentrating on camp.)

But I digress(ed). This should have been and could have been the ‘gig of the year’ and to some maybe it was. It was almost ruined for me by a small section of the audience.  I will call them the statues. People who remain rooted to the spot and having found their chosen vantage point, will not move. They usually have an electronic device held aloft and view the action thru a small screen.  They don’t like people who dance and they shove aggressively and scowl at anyone who does. How can you NOT dance to Plastic Surgery, Lady, Fat Fun…?

The huge irony wasn’t lost on me, that thirty six years on from being bottled at an Antz gig, I really, really wanted to glass the bloke in front of me who refused to accept that occasionally people dancing might jog his arm or knock into him.  It’s not good manners to scowl and spit fuck off through your teeth when surely we are all here united in our love of Adam and his art? Whilst yes, there is a lot of ‘theatre’ about Adam, surely when he sets his hymns to disco (Like this), you have to dance? You don’t it seems. Living statues everywhere. One musclebound bloke even tapped me on the shoulder, indicated I should stop dancing with a gangsterish tilt of the head and hard stare.

When did people stop dancing at gigs? When did going to a gig become such a passive experience? Asked my tiggerishly bouncing friend Tony. “Over-consumption of passive entertainment has dulled the nations’ ability to actively participate in life” replied his friend Allana wisely.

Anyway. Adam Ant is still an inspiration. Dirk Wears White Sox remains an un-matched album of bizarre, perverse songs that take in madness, sex, history and the Futurist Manifesto. New life was breathed into it. The only thing that dates it is the use of a term which is “unacceptable” nowadays, which Adam could subtly replace but doesn’t. If he did he be criticised though, so he’s damned either way.

There are eight more dates on this tour… which are not to be missed… and hey, Kick Over the Statues for me.

Setlist pic taken from Karen Lyn Morgan’s Facebook page…

ants set list 2015 from Karen Lynn Morgans FB

 

Adam Ant’s website (for tour dates etc) is here: adam-ant.com.

Live pic above © Steve Little-Triggers.

All words Ged Babey. More writing by Ged on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.

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Ged Babey
Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for a great review Ged. There were a lot of statues there, albeit with cute heart stickers on their faces a la the Prince Charming cover photo. I was near the front but surrounded by them (a family of whom only came to life when he threw his t-shirt into the crowd and they caught it – an insult to those of us who were actually alive during the rest of the show).

    Having seen Adam 3 times in the last year I can honestly say that he’s in great form right now. This was second only to the Islington gig in November simply because there were less statues and better support. “Shooze” are the support on this tour – known as “New Killer Shoes” when they supported him last year – why they changed their name I don’t know. Seeing Adam in smaller, intimate, venues is brilliant – especially for those who just want to gaze into those eyes (which carry that naughty glint in them that I know and love).

    I absolutely love Dirk and this promotion of early material has taken me to the post-punk era that I didn’t live through, I was 2 when DWWS came out. The only thing that saddens me is that people are attending these gigs still expecting the white stripe and greatest hits. They will come when he does the next couple of tours (“Kings” later this year, “Prince Charming” in due course”) and I hope he gets a good turn out of true fans at those shows.

    I’ll be there… though probably not with a white stripe!!!

  2. That’s a great review, better than mine of the Salisbury gig in 78 not 79. I’ll get it in my memoirs. We must have met? I didn’t make it to the Hammersmith ‘Dirk’ gig or Adam’s appearance at Rough Trade I’m afraid. Are there any old Ants in the band now?

  3. We’ve never met Tom but have a few mutual friends. I lived in the same village as Sharon Clarkson as a kid. Was a few years below Perry Harris at school in Salisbury. Worked for Vince Clayden in Subway Records. Knew Tanya, Andrea and so on. No old Ants in Adams current band. Dave Barbarrosa is releasing something soon thru John Robbs Louder Than War label I believe. He’ll tell you about it. You really should try and see Adam on this tour whilst he’s still playing all the Fetish stuff. Cheers. ged

  4. Nice review mate. The set list is actually mine as it’s my writing at the bottom. I nabbed it off the mixing desk. Was a top top night. If you want a clearer scan of the set list then just say,Cheers Andy.

    • Don’t need a clearer one thanks Andy. It saved me typing out the set list that’s all. Nice work swiping it and thanks for sticking it up on Facebook.

  5. Pretty spot-on with that review, and I agree 100% on the statues and twats who feel they have a God-given right to film at gigs (I’d rather enjoy the live experience while I’m there, but that’s me!).

    I wouldn’t at all have been surprised if there was a percentage of the audience who’d gone along to see a “Greatest Hits” show, and I recall someone shouting for “Puss in Boots” (Groan). But I hope those that did, came away with a new found respect for Adam, and are moved enough to go out and get a copy of “Dirk….”?

    For me, it didn’t in the least feel nostalgic, more a rebirth of songs that deserved a lot more attention when they were first released. Played with enthusiasm, energy and tighter than the wire on a pick-up spring, they could’ve been released yesterday. Awesome!

    Here’s looking forwards to the Buzzcocks in May….

  6. The best gig I’ve ever been to? Quite possibly. Blew my nuts off. Played Xerox (just for Tony) two demo tracks & Pipeline from Bazooka Joe days. 48 hours later & I’m still buzzing like a Cucumber!

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