Brighton Concorde 2
Given recent events in the life and times of Adam Ant, it is almost impossible not to feel a slight twinge of panic as the change-over time between support act Krakatoa and the supposed arrival of our returning hero begins to drag on…and on…and on. The stage certainly looks equipped and ready for a rock ”Ën’ roll show, but nothing is ever 100 per cent certain in Antworld. Visions of the 56-year-old pop legend shuffling along the beach in nothing but his pants, brandishing a giant stick of rock and shouting expletives at seagulls may have flashed through the minds of even the most patient and optimistic fans, and yet there is a tangible atmosphere of excitement and goodwill in a packed Concorde tonight: people want this to happen and to go brilliantly, not just for themselves but for the man himself too. Adam’s fans have waited for a long time to see their idol tread the boards again and if recent media appearances have revealed him to be more than a little combative and defiant, that has only added to the sense that this time, finally, he is on course to reignite that once glittering career.
And then the interminable wait ends and there he is. Adam Ant. Large as life, eyes twinkling, a belligerent snarl making it plain from the opening seconds of a spiky and urgent ”ËPlastic Surgery’ that this is not going to be some cynical, neutered exercise in showbizzy 80s nostalgia. Adam’s new band ”â seemingly to be known as The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse ”â look and sound fantastic; a ragbag of insouciant, ice-cool misfits, replete with two drummers, that perfectly complement their leader’s eccentric garb and gait. But what really matters is Adam himself, and even though there are moments during the set when he seems a little antagonised and uncomfortable, there is more than enough evidence of both the magisterial pop star that towered above his peers 30 years ago and the cocksure art school punk that never tried nor cared to abide by anyone else’s rules. From ”ËDog Eat Dog’ and ”ËStand And Deliver’ through to ”ËVive Le Rock’ and even a touching ”ËWonderful’, these are great songs with renewed fire in their bellies, performed by a band that clearly believe in them and understand why this music continues to resonate with so many after all this time. In fact, despite dutifully playing the majority of his biggest hits, Adam is clearly more interested in revisiting the edgier parts of his catalogue and so tonight, much to the delight of the die-hards, we get a huge amount of material from the brilliant ”ËDirk Wears White Sox’, including bullish, pointedly abrasive versions of ”ËCatholic Day’, ”ËCleopatra’ and ”ËNever Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)’, plus fistfuls of b-sides and obscurities ranging from the crowd-pleasing likes of ”ËBeat My Guest’ and set closer ”ËFall In’ through to a snotty ”ËFat Fun’ and a turbo-charged ”ËPhysical’. And while it is undeniable that Adam’s backing vocalists, one of whom appears to be Andrew Sachs’ tabloid-(dis)approved granddaughter Georgina Baillie, are involved more for their boss’s entertainment than for ours, their presence does add a dash of camp and kitsch to what is an otherwise fervently fiery and insubordinate affair. There is an exhilarating frisson of danger in the air tonight: a far cry from the cosiness of the Here And Now has-been circuit that Adam now seems determined to avoid. Far from being a tentative toe in touring waters, tonight is all about expectations being audaciously surpassed. It is also more than apparent that Adam is rather enjoying the opportunity to vent his spleen and settle a score or two. “Beady Eye?”Â he spits, unprompted, at one point. “Most appropriate name for a band I’ve ever heard. They should be called Monobrow. They’re a pub band! Shit!”Â He grins wickedly, wiggles his hips and takes a large glug from his beer. Adam Ant is having fun.
Meanwhile, if The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse are already this good, barely a handful of shows into their existence, then we can only imagine how monstrous they will sound at the end of this lengthy tour. Gloriously, and perhaps surprisingly, Adam Ant seems more than ready and able to take on the challenge too. He leaves the stage tonight without saying goodbye or thank you: a living, breathing, thrillingly haughty punk rock pop star to the last. How fucking splendid it is to have him back.
Plastic Surgery / Dog Eat Dog / Cartrouble / Zerox / Deutscher Girls / Stand and Deliver / Catholic Day / Kings of the Wild Frontier / Beat My Guest / B-Side Baby / Wonderful / Press Darlings / Antmusic / Cleopatra / Goody Two Shoes / Never Trust A Man (With Egg on his Face) / Vive Le Rock / Christian D’or / Fall In / Prince Charming / A.N.T.S / Fat Fun / Get It On / Physical (You’re So)